Each year, more than five million people worldwide die as a result of bacteria that are resistant to most common antibiotics. New antibiotics are urgently needed to ensure that bacterial infections in patients can still be treated successfully. “Unfortunately, the development pipeline for new antibiotics is fairly empty,” says chemist Oliver Zerbe, head of the NMR facilities at the University of Zurich. “It’s been more than 50 years since the last antibiotics against previously unused target molecules were approved.”
In a study recently published in Science Advances, Zerbe now discusses the development of a highly effective class of antibiotics that fight Gram-negative bacteria in a novel way. The WHO classifies this group of bacteria as extremely dangerous. The group, whose resistance is particularly high due to their double cell membrane, includes carbapenem-resistant enterobacteria, for example. Besides the UZH team, researchers from the pharmaceutical company Spexis AG were also involved in the study as part of a collaboration co-funded by Innosuisse.