November 22, 2015

"Until last month I was still pessimistic about our chances of avoiding the antibiotics nightmare."

Guardian But that changed when I attended a workshop in Beijing on a new approach to antibiotic development based on bacteriocins – protein antibiotics produced by bacteria to kill closely related species, and exquisitely narrow-spectrum. by Richard James

'My research over 37 years involved the study of a number of bacteriocins that can kill a range of clinically important bacteria. I – and many other researchers – did not believe they could be useful clinically because injecting a “foreign” bacterial protein into a patient is likely to induce a severe immune response that would make the antibiotic inactive. There were therefore gasps of amazement in Beijing at data presented from several animal studies showing this was not the case.

'If you consider a killing domain as a red Lego brick and a targeting domain as a yellow Lego brick, you can make hundreds of different hybrid proteins consisting of one red and one yellow brick to make what I refer to as a series of novel bacteriocin-derived antibiotics (BDAs). In fact, several BDAs have already been designed to kill target bacteria, fungi and even tumour cells.

'The ability to use the BDA system to continually make novel antibiotics significantly de-risks the development of antibiotics process and in my opinion offers a significant ray of hope in the present gloom. It is now for governments and health organisations to make sure they make the most of this unexpected breakthrough.'

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