By Sola Ogundipe
ANXIETY over the contribution of antibiotic overuse and misuse to the growing increase in antimicrobial resistance that has been spreading all over the world may soon be over.
Expectations that hope may be on the horizon, arises from announcement by researchers from Imperial College London and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine that they have discovered a new class of antibiotics that is effective against the gonorrhoea bacteria in lab studies, sparking new hope against yet another group of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Reports of increasing cases of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea have been on the rise in recent times and the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the infection as high priority and public health threat.
For the first time, researchers have tested new antibiotic against the bacteria. The antibiotic, closthioamide, was previously discovered in 2010.
For their research, the scientists, “tested 149 samples of N. gonorrhoeae from hospital patients with infections in the throat, urethra, cervix and rectum, according to a statement on the research.
They found that closthioamide, in concentrations of 0.125mg/L, was effective against 146 of 149 samples. In addition, they found that the antibiotic was effective against “all of the samples provided by WHO which were known to be resistant to other antibiotics.”
These findings mark a new step in the fight against gonorrhea infections; although the antibiotic has yet to be tested on animals and humans.
Speaking on the implications of these findings co-lead author Dr. John Heap, stated: “The imminent threat of untreatable antibiotic-resistant infectious diseases, including gonorrhea, is a global problem, for which we urgently need new antibiotics. This new finding might help us take the lead in the arms race against antimicrobial resistance.”
He added, “The next step will be to continue lab research to further assess the drug’s safety and effectiveness. Despite showing tremendous promise, it will be a number of years before, and if, we can use the drug in real life human cases.”
“The results of our initial laboratory studies show that closthioamide has the potential to combat N. gonorrhoeae. Further research is needed, but its potential to successfully tackle this infection, as well as other bacteria, cannot be underestimated,” said Co-lead author Victoria Miari.
According to the authors, closthioamide is the first of many undiscovered antibiotics that exist in nature; however, it is difficult to find these antibiotics and test them. Still the results of this study are promising, at least at the out-set, and news of a potential weapon against a drug-resistant threat is welcome news, regardless of how small or far off we will see the results.
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