A group of scientists recently developed a new class of antibiotic that can be used to fight against drug-resistant hospital superbugs.
The antibiotic, called platensimycin, can be used to destroy bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a bug resistant to any modern antibiotics.
"It is believed that the widespread drug resistance among bacterial pathogens is due to the limited choice of antibiotics," wrote Eric Brown of McMaster University in Canada, the leader of the scientists group.
If the new antibiotic passes the required clinical trials it will be the most powerful antibiotic ever created.
"The path ahead remains a long one that includes further preclinical study and, if these studies are successful, extensive clinical trials for safety and efficacy in humans," said Dr Brown. "Platensimycin is nevertheless the most potent inhibitor reported so far for FabF."
An antibiotic is a drug that kills or slows the growth of bacteria. Antibiotics are one class of antimicrobials, a larger group which also includes anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic drugs. They are relatively harmless to the host, and therefore can be used to treat infections.
The term, coined by Selman Waksman, originally described only those formulations derived from living organisms, in contrast to "chemotherapeutic agents", which are purely synthetic. Nowadays the term "antibiotic" is also applied to synthetic antimicrobials, such as the sulfa drugs.
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