Vancomycin inhibits the biosynthesis of bacterial cell walls, and kills them.
Vancomycin, an antibiotic that has served humans for six decades, is now very resistant to bacteria. However, scientists say they have found a way to refine this antibiotic, which has increased its effectiveness by 1,000 times.
The study was carried out by scientists from the US Scripps Research Institute. Vancomycin is adjusted to kill bacteria in 3 different ways, while limiting the ability of bacteria to resist all 3 ways at the same time.
Tests showed that fine-tuning antibiotics killed both Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci, one of the 12 most dangerous viruses on the WHO list.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warns antibiotic-resistant bacteria as one of the largest global threats today. It triggers a crisis in the field of health, food security and inhibits the overall development.
Antibiotic resistance makes simple pathologies difficult to treat today, because the drugs we take are ineffective.
But when looking at vancomycin, scientists still feel hopeful. This antibiotic is considered a “medicinal god” because of its strong antibacterial ability. It inhibits the biosynthesis of the bacterial cell wall and kills them.
Bacteria also take a long time, 16 years, to be able to resist vancomycin, in comparison only two short years to resist penicillin. Now, scientists also tweak this antibiotic to add two mechanisms to destroy new bacteria.
The study was published in the Proceedings of the American Academy of Sciences, showing that vancomycin continues to exploit the ability of bacteria to attack cell walls. It can increase power up to 1,000 times.
Tests on Enterococci bacteria, fine-tuned vancomycin can kill both purebred Enterococci and vancomycin-resistant Enterococci, one of the 12 viruses on the WHO’s list of alarms.
The study was led by Dale Boger, head of the Scripps Research Institute Chemistry Department. He said vancomycin was refined to have three independent “mechanisms of action” to kill bacteria. “This increases the antibiotic stability [meaning to keep the activity]”.
“The bacteria can’t find a way to fight all three independent mechanisms at the same time,” Boger said. “Even if they find a solution against one of them, the bacteria are still killed by the other two mechanisms.”
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria adapt gradually to drugs. They form many different “cunning” mechanisms, when they are hiding from antibiotics, when they are against them, causing many infections to become difficult to treat.
Bacteria that carry many resistance genes to many different antibiotics are called multidrug-resistant bacteria or viruses.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 2 million people worldwide are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year. 23,000 of them will die. According to a survey funded by the British government, the virus could cause 10 million deaths by the middle of the century, if we don’t act in time.