A new type of antibiotic that works by blocking genes essential for bacterial reproduction successfully killed a multidrug-resistant germ common to healthcare settings, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers report.
“We set out to target specific genes in Acinetobacter in an effort to inhibit the bacterium’s growth,” said Dr. David Greenberg, assistant professor of internal medicine and microbiology and senior author of the study. “With infections from drug-resistant pathogens rising rapidly, there is an urgent need to come up with new approaches such as the use of [these antibiotics] to spur antibiotic development.”
The technology and new approach offer potential promise against the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, the researchers said.
The pathogen–Acinetobacter–can cause infections from pneumonia to serious blood or wound infections, posing greater risk to people with weakened immune systems, chronic lung disease, or diabetes. It mainly affects hospitalized patients or those in long-term care facilities, such as those on ventilators or with urinary catheters or patients treated for open wounds.
In the study, recently published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, antibiotics designed to combat two strains of Acinetobacter reduced the number of infectious bacteria in mice by more than 90 percent. Survival of infected mice also improved with the treatment.