First new antibiotic in HOW long?

Part of the hoopla over antibiotic resistance involves the lack of new drug targets. But this week, Ling et al. published a paper titled “A new antibiotic kills pathogens without detectable resistance” – talk about a big splash! Not only is it the first new class of antibiotic since 1987 (!) but they also discovered it using non-culture based methods and failed to detect any mutants when they screened a couple of bacterial species for resistance. Although it has yet to be tested on humans, trials in mice were positive. The primary article is behind a paywall (I’ve pasted the abstract below) but there’s some good media coverage where you can read more here and here. Way to go, scientists!


A new antibiotic kills pathogens without detectable resistance

Losee L. Ling, Tanja Schneider, Aaron J. Peoples, Amy L. Spoering, Ina Engels, Brian P. Conlon, Anna Mueller, Till F. Schäberle, Dallas E. Hughes, Slava Epstein, Michael Jones, Linos Lazarides, Victoria A. Steadman, Douglas R. Cohen, Cintia R. Felix, K. Ashley Fetterman, William P. Millett, Anthony G. Nitti, Ashley M. Zullo, Chao Chen & Kim Lewis

ABSTRACT: Antibiotic resistance is spreading faster than the introduction of new compounds into clinical practice, causing a public health crisis. Most antibiotics were produced by screening soil microorganisms, but this limited resource of cultivable bacteria was overmined by the 1960s. Synthetic approaches to produce antibiotics have been unable to replace this platform. Uncultured bacteria make up approximately 99% of all species in external environments, and are an untapped source of new antibiotics. We developed several methods to grow uncultured organisms by cultivation in situ or by using specific growth factors. Here we report a new antibiotic that we term teixobactin, discovered in a screen of uncultured bacteria. Teixobactin inhibits cell wall synthesis by binding to a highly conserved motif of lipid II (precursor of peptidoglycan) and lipid III (precursor of cell wall teichoic acid). We did not obtain any mutants of Staphylococcus aureus or Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistant to teixobactin. The properties of this compound suggest a path towards developing antibiotics that are likely to avoid development of resistance.