Chemical compound discovery could fight super bugs

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Scientists have discovered a new chemical compound to destroy bacteria, bringing them closer to developing a new class of antibiotics that can fight so called super bugs. For more than ten years, eradicating drug resistant bacteria has been a challenge. Now researchers have discovered a chemical compound that could lead to a completely new mechanism for destroying drug resistant bacteria.

Eric Brown, a professor and chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, collaborating with a team of researchers from the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research have discovered that the chemical compound MAC13243 can block a particular portion in the development of the cell surface of bacteria. Current antibiotics destroy the cell membrane of bacteria, rather than the cell surface.

"Everyone reads the headlines about drug-resistant bugs; it's a big problem”, says Dr. Brown. Really what we're trying to do is understand whether or not there are new ways to tackle this problem."


The research team included scientists from McMaster University to find the new molecular pathway that could help fight super bugs using HST (high- throughput screening).

Brown says, "We're excited about finding a new probe of a relatively uncharted part of bacterial physiology. It's a new way of thinking about the problem. Who knows, could this chemical become a drug? Anything's possible. But at the very least we've advanced the field and created some tools that people can use now to try to better understand this pathway."

Until now scientists had no leads that using a chemical compound to block molecules in the cell surface of bacteria could destroy bacteria. The newly discovered chemical compound could help fight super bugs by leading to the development of new antibiotics that attack bacteria in a whole new way – thanks to the technology of high throughput screening.

Nature Chemical Biology