Embracing a Promising Class of Antibiotics: Addressing Economic Challenges

January 07, 2024

The challenge of antimicrobial resistance underscores the need for judicious use of new antibiotics, requiring substantial support from governments through long-term funding plans. Acinetobacter baumannii, a remarkably resilient bacterium causing diverse infections, exhibits the ability to persist on surfaces like hospital air vents, keyboards, and human skin due to its desiccation survival skills. Its adaptability, both metabolically and genetically, has conferred resistance to the limited antibiotics penetrating its dual protective cell membranes. With over one million deaths annually attributed to antibiotic-resistant microbes, A. baumannii has attained a prominent position on the World Health Organization's (WHO) list of priority pathogens, highlighting its global threat. 

Two studies published in Nature on January 3rd present a new class of drug candidates targeting A. baumannii infections. However, beyond scientific challenges, the development of these compounds faces economic obstacles, with insufficient incentives hindering many companies from undertaking the associated risks. As resistance escalates, there is an urgent call for the international community to play a more active role in guiding promising drugs from laboratory discovery to practical application. The novel compounds obstruct the bacterium's transportation of crucial building blocks by binding to a distinctive site, overcoming A. baumannii's resistance to other compounds targeting the same pathway. Among these molecules, zosurabalpin demonstrated efficacy against multiple resistant strains in culture and, notably, in mice against a strain resistant to all existing antimicrobials. The first clinical-trial results for this compound are anticipated later this year.

SOURCE: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-04086-z