US scientists develop revolutionary new treatment that could fight drug-resistant bacteria and save up to a million lives every year
- A Peptilogics team has developed a drug that can fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria
- The drug, called PLG0206, also fights bacterial and fungal strains in a way that prevents them from further mutating the defenses.
- Experts fear antibiotic-resistant infections will cause around 50 million deaths by 2050
- The CDC warned earlier this year that drug-resistant infections had increased by as much as 60% during the pandemic.
Scientists have developed a potentially breakthrough drug that could solve the problem of drug-resistant bacteria and save more than a million lives worldwide each year.
Peptilogics, a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based biotech company, last week released the results of trials of its new drug PLG0206 showing it could defeat drug-resistant infections in both the laboratory setting and in animals. Importantly, it also did not stimulate the bacteria to further mutate in a way that will lead to more resistance.
Although it may still be a long way from treating drug-resistant infections in humans, scientists are confident they have taken a crucial first step toward finding a solution to one of the world’s emerging medical crises.
Antibiotic infections have emerged in recent decades due to rampant overuse of the drugs around the turn of the century. Experts predict that diseases will cause 50 million deaths worldwide by 2050 and are currently responsible for more than one million deaths each year.
Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that the prevalence of these diseases increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The scientist designed the peptide drug PLG0206 using a chain of amino acids. It showed promise in fighting drug-resistant bacterial infections in the lab and in animal samples
PLG0206 is an antimicrobial drug that specifically targets antibiotic-resistant infections that have emerged in recent decades.
It is a peptide, designed using a chain of amino acids. This type of drug is commonly used in medicine.
Antimicrobials have been used for years, and antibiotics themselves belong to the same class of drugs.
One problem that has emerged is that bacteria and fungi are highly evasive and can mutate in ways that make them resistant to the drug designed to fight them.
CDC warns prevalence of drug-resistant bacterial infections increased by up to 60% during COVID-19 pandemic
Bacterial and fungal infections that are resistant to standard medication are on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC revealed Tuesday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a special report on the US impact of antimicrobial resistance that shares the shocking increase in infections and deaths caused by these diseases during the pandemic.
Overall, there was a 15 percent jump in both infections and deaths from infections overall in the first year of the pandemic, although the number could be even higher as some of the data remains incomplete.
For some specific infections, those described as having an “alarming” rate of growth in the report, year-on-year growth was as much as 60 percent.
The sharp increase in some bacterial and fungal infections is of extreme concern to health officials who had been recording a sharp decline in these diseases in the second half of the 2010s.
Antibiotic drugs have been around for over 100 years, but they rose to prominence especially in the 2000s.
Doctors are mass prescribing the highly effective drugs, whereas before they were mainly considered as a last resort for many infections.
While they provided much-needed relief to the patients who were prescribed them, they also created another problem. The bacteria and fungi at the heart of these infections began to evolve.
This led to the rise of dangerous infections such as carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter and C. Auris. Although officials can control the symptoms of these infections, there are no known effective treatments.
This has prompted research to find new classes of drugs that not only fight these resistant infections, but also do so in a way that won’t encourage them to further evolve.
Other options have emerged in recent years, but are often thought to be toxic to humans or not effective enough to be worthwhile.
PLG0206 is pleasant to humans, and while it is extremely powerful, it is not to the point of being a danger to them. The drug can also reach the kidneys, where it is metabolized for maximum effectiveness.
The researchers tested the drug first in a laboratory setting. PLG0206 was found to be able to fight infections in sheep blood cells.
Then he moved on to animals. In a test on rabbits implanted with metal joint devices that often cause infection in humans, the drug was able to prevent bacterial cultures from forming in 75 percent of cases.
By comparison, all rabbits treated with a common antibiotic alone died as a result of infection.
The drug was also able to cure the mice of E. coli, with no traces of the infection found when the rodents were later autopsied.
Last July, the drug received approval from the Food and Drug Administration’s fast-track program, which could streamline its review process if the data is ever sent to regulators for approval.
That submission could still be a long way off, however, as human trials for a drug using PLG0206 as its active ingredient have yet to begin.