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Deeper Understanding of Old Antibiotic to Help Develop New Antibiotics

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Published on : Dec 06, 2017

A new study revolving an old antibiotic could help develop new and more effective antibiotics that could cure life-threatening conditions like tuberculosis and other conditions that are being caused due to drug-resistant bacteria. As antimicrobial resistance to the presently available antibiotics increasingly threatens several aspects of human activity, including agriculture and medicine, and increasingly gains the potential of causing more deaths than cancer, this research could be the answer to the looming challenge of tackling life-threatening microbial diseases.

The study, led by scientists from The Francis Crick Institute and the University of Warwick, U.K., was published recently in the Nature Communications magazine. The study reveals a much deeper detailed understanding about the unique working mechanism of the antibiotic D-cycloserine at a molecular level. This old antibiotic is prescribed against a number of microbial conditions such as tuberculosis but is more often prescribed as a second-line treatment option owing to its certain side-effects on the body. The study has led to the discovery that the antibiotic D-cycloserine acts in a very different manner chemically on a number of bacterial targets, which makes it the only antibiotic that does so in the world.

The antibiotic attacks microbes by inhibiting the enzymes - D-alanine racemase and D-alanine -- D-alanine ligase, both required to maintain and build the structural integrity of the cell walls of the bacteria. It is also for the first time that researchers have discovered the mechanism that D-cycloserine uses to constrain the D-alanine -- D-alanine ligase enzyme. Researchers feel that the next step into using the benefits of D-cycloserine by modifying its structure so it can more closely resemble the chemical species that have been newly discovered, and produce a more specific and safer antibiotic that does not have the adverse effects of D-cycloserine.