The new approach is based on targeting the bacterial wall and on the physical “confinement” of the bacteria
A new, almost “mechanical” way of killing bacteria is what this team from McMaster University and Montreal has to offer. This promising clinical concept in the fight against antimicrobial resistance, based on the targeting of the bacterial wall and on the physical “confinement” of the bacteria, and presented in the journal Nature, announces the development of a new class of antibiotics with a whole new mode of action.
The principle described in this work is that of the “new molecule” corbomycin and the lesser known complestatin: “Complestatin and corbomycin are antibiotics that attack peptidoglycan, the main component of the cell wall essential for the development and the survival of almost all bacteria ”, explains the co-author, Yves Brun, of the Department of microbiology, infectiology and immunology of the University of Montreal. “These two antibiotics inhibit the action of autolysins necessary for cell growth and division.” Elisabeth Culp, co-author of the study, doctoral candidate in biochemistry and biomedical sciences at McMaster University explains this principle to us in another way: “The antibiotic kills bacteria by blocking the function of the bacterial cell wall. As the bacteria can no longer divide, they become more and more fragile, they transform into long filaments which affects their ability to reproduce. ”
A new family of antibiotics inspired by glycopeptides
To identify this new antibacterial strategy, Canadian researchers analyzed the family tree of already known glycopeptides, studied the genes of those that do not have known resistance mechanisms, with the idea that they could then provide another way of kill bacteria. “If the genes that made these antibiotics were different, their anti-bacteria weapons may also have been different.” This analysis confirms that this new class of antibiotics works differently, targeting the bacterial wall – as explained above.
The proof in mice: the researchers demonstrate here that these new antibiotics can block infections caused by the drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
“For a cell to grow, it has to divide and expand. If you completely block it, it is like trapped in a prison it cannot develop or multiply “: this work thus reveals a new possible mode of action for antibiotics and this for the first time in decades. The approach can, moreover, be applied to other antibiotics, making it possible to discover new ones with different mechanisms of action. Finally, there is a bonus! The bacteria exposed to these antibiotics will not develop significant resistance.