RVNA Today: Fighting ‘superbugs’

The medical community has been concerned for some time with the health threat posed by “superbug” bacteria which can mutate to resist antibiotics. Both researchers and the pharmaceutical industry have been trying to stay ahead by developing new agents and modifying existing ones. Now scientists say they have modified vancomycin, an existing antibiotic, to make it a more potent fighter against germs. The researchers indicate that this modified form of vancomycin can be used without fear of resistance emerging.

Vancomycin has been in use for 60 years and works by disrupting how bacteria form cellular walls, but bacteria have been developing a resistance to it. Two earlier modifications to vancomycin made it more effective in defeating bacteria, and the most recent modification further increases its durability. The antibiotic now has three mechanisms to prevent bacterial resistance. In laboratory studies, the new version of vancomycin killed vancomycin-resistant Enterococci bacteria and original forms of Enterococci. However, more research is needed to find a quicker way to produce the modified antibiotic since the current method involves 30 steps.  Vancomycin has been a very important antibiotic in the fight against bacterial infection and has been used extensively to treat MRSA, a common superbug, as well as other organisms. Its new modification will make it extremely helpful in controlling highly resistant bacteria.