Washington, Oct 17 : A new class of antibiotics holds promise in treating drug-resistant tuberculosis and other diseases caused by bacteria, according to researchers at Rutgers University
The researchers said that they discovered three naturally-occurring antibiotic compounds that can be used to create new medications, which can be administered to unleash "a kind of chemical warfare against other bacteria."
The breakthrough holds special promise for the treatment of tuberculosis (TB), a disease that is carried by one in three people in the world and which is proving increasingly resistant to today's antibiotics, scientists said.
The new antibiotic class not also promises treatment that could be significantly shorter than existing antibiotic regimens, which can last as long as a half-year.
"The Holy Grail in TB therapy is to reduce the course of therapy from six months to two weeks - to make treatment of TB like treatment of other bacterial infections," said Richard Ebright, a Howard Hughes Institute investigator at Rutgers University.
"With a six-month course of therapy for a disease that is largely centered in the third world, the logistical problems of administering therapy over space and time make eradication a nonstarter. But, if there were a two-week course of therapy, the logistics would be manageable, and the disease could be eradicated," he added.
The discovery comes at a time when a quarter of all deaths worldwide are the result of bacterial infectious diseases, and yet more and more disease-causing bacteria are growing resistant to currently available antibiotics.
"For six decades, antibiotics have been our bulwark against bacterial infectious diseases. Now, this bulwark is collapsing. There is an urgent need for new antibiotic compounds and practical new targets," said Richard Ebright, a Howard Hughes Institute investigator at Rutgers University.
The study is published in the October 17th issue of the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication.