A team of researchers has discovered a new class of antibiotics to fight a deadly strain of bacteria,at a time when drug-resistant bacteria are threatening public health worldwide.
The new class, called oxadiazoles, was discovered in silico (via computer) screening and has shown promise in the treatment of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria in infected mouse.
"The researchers have been working on the mechanisms of resistance in MRSA for a very long time. As we understand what the mechanisms are, we can devise strategies to develop compounds against MRSA," said professor Mayland Chang from the Indiana-based University of Notre Dame.
Chang, along with professor Shahriar Mobashery, screened 1.2 million compounds and found that the oxadiazole inhibits a penicillin-binding protein, PBP2a, and the biosynthesis of the cell wall that enables MRSA to resist other drugs.
The oxadiazoles are also effective when taken orally.
"This is an important feature as there is only one marketed antibiotic for MRSA that can be taken orally," Mobashery added.
Currently, only three drugs are effective against MRSA and resistance to each of those drugs already exists.
"The discovery could save thousands of lives around the world. We are grateful for the research team's leadership and persistence in fighting drug resistance," said Greg Crawford, dean of the college of science at the University of Notre Dame.
The research was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.