An 80-year-old compound called streptothricin-F may protect people from harmful, drug-resistant germs, according to recent research findings.

Infections caused by drug-resistant pathogens kill over 35,000 people in the U.S. every year. Such microbes are a big threat to both human health and our healthcare system. Therefore, there is a dire need for medicines that can deal with these threats.

Researchers have recently discovered evidence that a protein called streptothricin-F, which has been around for 80 years, may protect people from dangerous bacteria that are multi-drug resistant. It is a type of antibiotic known as streptothricin, which was first developed in 1942 but rapidly forgotten due to its toxicity and kidney-damaging effects.

Image source: livescience

Antibiotic Drug Resistance

According to the researchers’ latest study, streptothricin-F differs from other antibiotics in its class. They found that this specific chemical was both extremely successful and less harmful when used to treat germs that are currently drug-resistant.

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James Kirby, one of the study authors and a professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School said,

“Streptothricins promise that they uniquely target protein synthesis in contrast to existing FDA-approved antimicrobials. This allows them to avoid commonly circulating resistance mechanisms. This natural product has been evolved by soil bacteria to gain turf in the soil. In doing, these bacteria have figured out how to make an antibiotic that is good at penetrating through the gram-negative permeability barrier.”

Image source: livescience

“Based on unique, promising activity, we believe the streptothricin scaffold deserves further pre-clinical exploration as a potential therapeutic for the treatment of multidrug-resistant, Gram-negative pathogens,” the researchers said.

Researcher Joan Kapusnik-Uner, PharmD, senior vice president of informatics and clinical content at drug databank FDB (First Databank), who was not involved in the study says that revisiting or reviving older medication compounds is a practical approach.

“Antibiotics have been infrequently revived, in that, their use in practice had waned or decreased over time due to bacterial resistance emerging or because of unacceptable risk from side effects, compared to other available alternatives,” Kapusnik-Uner said.

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