Scientists Create a Superbug's Worst Nightmare

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria is now a grim reality, no matter how much we try to deny it. But as horrendous as its risks may seem to be, chances are it still wouldn’t be as bad as the black plague had once been.

This might be especially true with this new pioneering research, which might just possibly gave birth to the nemesis of these superbugs.

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria-Resistant Antibiotic

Credit via Flickr by QIAGEN

The Scripps Research Institute had just recently published an article that details how vancomycin, a well-known “last line of defense” measure antibiotic, was buffed with more mechanisms to its function. According to the research, this particular drug has been in use for at least 60 years before bacteria having resistance to it finally appeared, thus making it the perfect candidate for the modification.

Originally, vancomycin worked by preventing cell wall production of certain bacteria by binding to structures at the ends of the wall’s peptide chains. The modified drug has since been granted a third additional active cell wall disruption mechanism, designed to kill and destroy bacteria even if it shows signs of resistance to one or two active mechanisms.

The first test victim of this new “super vancomycin” was the Enterococci bacteria. Not only was the antibiotic able to eradicate the original one, it also managed to obliterate even the vancomycin-resistant one.

With three more mechanisms significantly increasing the potency of vancomycin, not only is it less susceptible to antibiotic resistance, but you now also essentially need smaller doses for it to work. The official publication described the achievement as “combined with the previous modifications, this alteration gives vancomycin a 1,000-fold increase in activity”.

So, No More Superbugs?

Credit via Flickr by Engineering at Cambridge

What makes antibiotic-resistant superbugs so scary, is the idea that standard medications that made our lives better in this modern era are now basically useless to stop its invasion of the human body. The chance of developing even more resistances as one specific super-bacteria mows down other antibiotic treatments is also an alarming concern,  the scare of which is most likely the cause of widespread unrest among keenly concerned groups.

However, if like vancomycin, more synthesized antibiotics are given buffed treatments to enhance its potency, then the fight simply moves onto the next level. There is no need to research and develop brand new antibiotics to bring to the medical frontlines (which takes a lot of time, effort, and money). We can simply “evolve” our own antibiotics, playing the exact same game as these dreadful critters.

Most importantly, steps also have to be taken to make these “super-antibiotics” more available. To this end, researchers of the newly enhanced vancomycin are now attempting to streamline the synthesizing process by reducing the number of steps to fabricate the drug.

Source: The Scripps Research Institute

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