Scientists at the University of Lincoln have made a breakthrough with a potential new antibiotic capable of tackling drug resistant bacteria.
A team led by Dr Ishwar Singh, a specialist in novel drug design from Lincoln’s School of Pharmacy, successfully produced two synthetic derivatives of teixobactin.
The discovery of teixobactin last year by US researchers was called a possible game changer in the ongoing battle to develop drug resistant antibiotics.
Dr Singh, 39, grew up in Uttar Pradesh and went to the University of Delhi before moving to the UK. He explained the work of his team in tackling an area that could have catastrophic implications if there are no advances.
“In terms of research we make molecules and especially focus on targeting the biological problem like anti-biological resistance. Lincoln has been working in the antibiotic area for three years and particularly teixobactin for almost a year,” he told Eastern Eye.
Drug resistance bacteria is a big problem in the health industry with voicing fears that we could “be back to a pre-penicillin age” where simple infections can kill.
UK government commissioned an anti-microbial resistance (AMR) review in 2014 which predicted that by 2050, there will likely be 10 millions deaths due to resistance infections, coupled with a huge economic impact.
“It’s going to be the main killer, more that cancer,” said Dr Singh. He is confident that his team can create many more synthetic derivates which could ultimately lead to the first new usable antibiotic for 30 years.
“You need several versions because it is almost impossible to take say take one derivative to the clinic. After finding a hit like the Teixobactin US discovery last year from the soil bacteria, the next part is the drug development and that is where most of the drugs fail.
That’s why we have came up with a solution to make it synthetically so we can make hundreds of those derivatives and so would have a very good chance of one of those molecules reaching the clinic,” said Dr Singh, whose team has been collaborating with the life sciences department at Lincoln.
Dr Edward Taylor, from the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences, explained the set-up at the Lincoln Science Innovation Park which includes a category 2 microbiology laboratory.
“We have a and NMR suite for working out the 3D structure and to see what changes Ishwar makes and how it manifests. We have the latest X-ray diffraction suite so we can see at molecular level,” said Dr Taylor.
The latest findings have been published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal, Chemical Communications.
Asked about media reports quoting Professor Kim Lewis of Northeastern University in Boston who thinks that the first clinical trials on humans could begin in a couple of years and and if successful the drug could be in widespread use in a decade, Dr Singh said:
“If someone could do that in two years that would be great.”