Jan 19, 2019 | Updated: 08:24 AM EST

Scientists Have Clues To Developing New Drugs To Combat Antibiotics-Resistant Bacteria

May 11, 2017 07:10 AM EDT


Tens of thousands die every year due to antibiotics-resistant bacteria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even the health care cost of bacterial health problems is reaching an alarming $20 billion per year. To make the challenge tougher, health experts agree that the development of antibiotics has declined since the 1980s onward.

It can't be blamed that the approval for new drugs has declined from 29 in the 80s to a limping 9 at the start of 2000, according to The New York Times. Bacteria have developed resistance to some antibiotics and introducing new drugs which are based on the same antibiotic classes often leads to deadlier bacteria. Meaning, bacteria that are resistant to a certain antibiotic can develop resistance to multiple antibiotics.

However, a couple of research team from the University of Bern and ETH Zurich explained the previously unknown process of bacterial protein production. This process can be studied by drug manufacturers in developing new antibiotics. The secret lies in the ribosomes which create new proteins that are being released in a narrow exit tunnel. Being a factory, the ribosomal process will only run smoothly if there is no hindrance in place.

If the proteins stalled from leaving the exit tunnel, the tactic can be applied to develop new antibiotics. Naturally occurring antibiotics are targeting the ribosome in some way but it is a known effect that these antibiotics gradually lose their potency, Phys.org said. The research suggests that understanding the time and location where the antibiotics will obstruct the protein is a promising lead in developing new drugs.

Drug manufacturers can also take the hint from the researchers. The team has already found a way to alter the parts of the tunnel exit and how they are affected by stalling. It appears that a functional group is important in the tunnel for drug-dependent ribosome stalling.

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