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New class of antibiotics may help combat antimicrobial resistance. Pixabay

Researchers have discovered a new class of compounds that combine direct antibiotic killing of pan drug-resistant bacterial pathogens with a simultaneous rapid immune response for combating antimicrobial resistance.

The research, published in the journal Nature, comes at a time when the list of bacteria that are becoming resistant to treatment with all available antibiotic options is growing and few new drugs are in the pipeline, creating a pressing need for new classes of antibiotics to prevent public health crises.


“We took a creative, double-pronged strategy to develop new molecules that can kill difficult-to-treat infections while enhancing the natural host immune response,” said Farokh Dotiwala, Assistant Professor in the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center, The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, US.

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Dotiwala is the lead author of the effort to identify a new generation of antimicrobials named dual-acting immuno-antibiotics (DAIAs).

Existing antibiotics target essential bacterial functions, including nucleic acid and protein synthesis, the building of the cell membrane, and metabolic pathways.

However, bacteria can acquire drug resistance by mutating the bacterial target the antibiotic is directed against, inactivating the drugs or pumping them out.

“We reasoned that harnessing the immune system to simultaneously attack bacteria on two different fronts makes it hard for them to develop resistance,” said Dotiwala.

The researchers focused on a metabolic pathway that is essential for most bacteria but absent in humans, making it an ideal target for antibiotic development.


All compounds tested were shown to be non-toxic to human cells. Pixabay

This pathway, called methyl-D-erythritol phosphate (MEP) or non-mevalonate pathway, is responsible for the biosynthesis of isoprenoids — molecules required for cell survival in most pathogenic bacteria.

Want to read more in Hindi? Checkout: नए साल पर मिला भारत को 2 कोविड-19 वैक्सीन का तोहफा

The lab targeted the IspH enzyme, an essential enzyme in isoprenoid biosynthesis, as a way to block this pathway and kill the microbes.

Given the broad presence of IspH in the bacterial world, this approach may target a wide range of bacteria.

Researchers used computer modeling to screen several million commercially available compounds for their ability to bind with the enzyme and selected the most potent ones that inhibited IspH function as starting points for drug discovery.

The team demonstrated that the IspH inhibitors stimulated the immune system with more potent bacterial killing activity and specificity than current best-in-class antibiotics when tested in vitro on clinical isolates of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including a wide range of pathogenic gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria.

ALSO READ: People With Genetic Conditions Likely To Have Symptoms Of Autism

In preclinical models of gram-negative bacterial infection, the bactericidal effects of the IspH inhibitors outperformed traditional pan antibiotics.

All compounds tested were shown to be non-toxic to human cells, said the study. (IANS)


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Milky Way galaxy as seen from Chitkul Valley

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has for the first time spotted signs of a planet transiting a star outside of the Milky Way galaxy, opening up a new avenue to search for exoplanets at greater distances than ever before.

The possible exoplanet -- or planets outside of our Solar System -- candidate is located in the spiral galaxy Messier 51 (M51), also called the Whirlpool Galaxy because of its distinctive profile, NASA said in a statement.

Astronomers have, so far, found all other known exoplanets and exoplanet candidates in the Milky Way galaxy, almost all of them less than about 3,000 light-years from Earth.

An exoplanet in M51 would be about 28 million light-years away, meaning it would be thousands of times farther away than those in the Milky Way, NASA said.

"We are trying to open up a whole new arena for finding other worlds by searching for planet candidates at X-ray wavelengths, a strategy that makes it possible to discover them in other galaxies," said Rosanne Di Stefano of the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard and Smithsonian (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the study.

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The exoplanet candidate was spotted in a binary system called M51-ULS-1, located in M51. This binary system contains a black hole or neutron star orbiting a companion star with a mass about 20 times that of the Sun. The X-ray transit they found using Chandra data lasted about three hours, during which the X-ray emission decreased to zero.

Based on this and other information, the team estimates the exoplanet candidate in M51-ULS-1 would be roughly the size of Saturn and orbit the neutron star or black hole at about twice the distance of Saturn from the Sun.

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Named in honor of the late Indian-American Nobel laureate, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, the Chandra X-ray Observatory is the world's most powerful X-ray telescope. It has eight times greater resolution and is able to detect sources more than 20-times fainter than any previous X-ray telescope.

Known to the world as Chandra (which means "moon" or "luminous" in Sanskrit), Chandrasekhar was widely regarded as one of the foremost astrophysicists of the twentieth century. (IANS/JB)


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