Antibiotics with Novel Mechanism of Action Discovered

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Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are spreading rapidly worldwide – new antibiotics are urgently needed. (Image: istock.com/Ca-ssis)

Many life-threatening bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to existing antibiotics. Swiss researchers co-headed by the University of Zurich have now discovered a new class of antibiotics with a unique spectrum of activity and mechanism of action – a major step in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. By disrupting outer membrane synthesis, the antibiotics effectively kill Gram-negative bacteria.

The rapid emergence of antimicrobial resistance is a matter of global concern. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), particularly Gram-negative bacteria pose a growing threat to human health. These pathogens can cause severe and often life-threatening infections. The last new class of antibiotics to reach the market against these microorganisms, the fluoroquinolones, dates back to the 1960s. Novel antibiotics with new mechanisms of action against Gram-negative bacteria are urgently needed, especially because resistance against the last resort antibiotic colistin is on a global rise.

Swiss research teams headed by the University of Zurich (UZH) and Polyphor AG now report the discovery and characterization of a new family of synthetic antibiotics that possess broad-spectrum anti-Gram-negative antimicrobial activity. The clinical stage biopharmaceutical company based in Allschwil now plans to progress one compound into human clinical trials. "POL7306, a first lead molecule of the novel antibiotics class, is now in preclinical development," says Daniel Obrecht, chief scientific officer at Polyphor and co-head of the work.

Media release UZH

Silvie Cuperus

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