Synthetic molecule can replace antibiotic

It will be possible to fight bacteria resistant to antibiotics with the help of a polymer molecule. If the researchers succeed in proving the safety of such treatment, then doctors may have a new effective method of dealing with dangerous deadly infections.

A group of scientists from the IBM Almaden Research Center (USA) and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (Singapore) presented a polymer molecule that can fight against bacteria that are not susceptible to antibiotics.

According to the World Health Organization, about 700 thousand people die every year from resistant bacteria, and the number of infections resistant to antibiotics is increasing. Currently, there are no new antibiotics to replace those that are already ineffective. Of the approximately 33 tested antibiotics, only eight are innovative. The other 25 are short-term solutions, not real therapy.

As part of an IBM study on the development of synthetic polymers for medical purposes, launched in 2012, a team of researchers presented a polymer molecule that can be used to combat deadly bacterial infections.

The synthetic molecule, developed at the Almaden Research Center, carries a negative electrical charge and acts as a magnet for the positively charged surfaces of infectious cells. The polymer molecule binds to the cell, pierces the membrane, enters it and turns the contents of the cell into solid particles. Bacteria are destroyed quickly, and they do not have time to mutate and develop resistance to such mechanical effects.

Ultimately, scientists plan to create a completely new class of therapeutic agents that could treat a spectrum of infectious diseases with a single mechanism – without the onset of resistivity.

Researchers successfully tested polymers in mice infected with five difficult-to-treat bacteria. The bacteria died, no toxic side effects were observed – within three days the polymers decomposed and were removed from the body. This is a particularly important part of the study, since earlier versions of synthetic molecules “blew up” bacteria, releasing dangerous toxins into the bloodstream.

Also, a team of researchers found that bacteria do not develop resistance even after several treatments with a polymer.

The next stage of the study is to show that the polymer does not accumulate in the body. After that, scientists hope to team up with pharmaceutical companies to develop a polymer for a particular therapy, test it in patients, and probably market launch.