Battling Resistant Bacteria

November 30, 2009

With the antibiotic Vancomycin, long considered a last resort in fighting infection, now plagued by the first signs of bacterial resistance, new research into an antibiotic known as Ramoplanin A2 is showing promise.

After twelve years of investigation, the research team learned how to crystallize Ramoplanin's molecular structure at the crucial time and place that it interacts with a bacterium's membrane. "Now we have this really important picture of how Ramoplanin works as an antibiotic," says Dewey McCafferty, professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

Despite its promise, various Ramoplanin preparations have not been well tolerated in human trials due to poor absorption and limited toxicity.

The findings show promise in treating the methicillin-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus that cause MRSA and similar infections. Ramoplanin, McCafferty says, is not susceptible to the same mechanisms of resistance as Vancomycin because it acts by a different molecular mechanism.

"A replacement for Vancomycin is urgently needed," he adds. "Ramoplanin may offer additional help in the fight against drug-resistant bacterial infections."