New weapons to fight MRSA
18 August 2006
Antibacterial compounds active against the life-threatening superbug MRSA have been made by Cambridge based scientists.
The research is reported in the latest edition of the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Chemical Communications.
As MRSA (Methicllin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) becomes increasingly resistant to common antibiotics, the search for new weapons to fight the infection is ever more urgent.
Dr David Spring and a team based at the University of Cambridge have developed the compounds in collaboration with pharmaceutical giants AstraZeneca, Alderley Park, and Pfizer, Kent.
The researchers used a technique called 'diversity-oriented synthesis' to create a wide range of compounds, some of which kill MRSA.
Dr Spring said: "Structurally diverse compound collections are essential for discovering new pharmacologically active small molecules.
"Historically, natural product extracts were the source of such molecules, but there are disadvantages to that approach, such as limited availability of the natural product and difficulty in making synthetic analogues."
Superbug: common antibacterial drugs can't kill off MRSA (above)
Dr Spring's team carried out their experiments on simple molecules containing two carbon atoms, based on the compound diazoacetate.
After a complex series of reactions, 223 unique molecules were generated - two percent of which killed MRSA.
Mark Ladlow, of the GlaxoSmithKline Cambridge Technology Centre, said the findings had great significance.
He said: "The number of Staphylococcus aureus infections that are resistant to the antibiotic methicillin and are contracted in hospitals is increasing.
"There is an increased risk of mortality, particularly for people undergoing surgical procedures. This underlines the need for new antibiotics to treat such life-threatening infections more effectively."
The molecules created by Dr Spring and his team are now undergoing further research at Addenbroke's Hospital, Cambridge, to investigate the scope of their activity and understand their mode of action.
with thanks to Elinor Richards for the original article
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