Web Zap*Germs Archive

September 01, 2005

New Cephalosporin Kills VRSA Superbug

University of Notre Dame researchers are developing synthetic cephalosporin antibiotics that have shown the ability to kill vancomycin-resistant staph (VRSA) germs. (Vancomycin is the toxic last-resort antibiotic used against MRSA bacteria.) Testing is still being done on these compounds, which use a novel approach to zapping the germs:
They appear to kill bacteria by masquerading as components of the bacterial cell wall in order to deactivate an enzyme that functions as a key bacterial defense mechanism, the researchers say. In preliminary lab tests, the new antibiotics — the first to exhibit this mimicry mechanism — were effective against vancomycin-resistant MRSA....

"We are the first to demonstrate this unique strategy, which could provide a new line of defense against the growing problem of antibiotic resistance," says study leader Shahriar Mobashery, Ph.D., a chemist at the university. "As scientists, we’re trying to stay one step ahead of the bacteria. The more strategies there are to fight resistance, the better."

Besides fighting staph bacteria, the compounds have the potential to work against a wide range of other types of infectious bacterial strains that appear in health-care and community settings, he says. At least one of the cephalosporin compounds identified has entered Phase I clinical trials (human studies), but results are not yet available. More studies are needed before it can be marketed, Mobashery and his associates say.


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