French researchers have transformed a toxin into antibiotics

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Researchers from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research Inserm have developed two promising new antibiotics by transforming a bacterial toxin and encouraging it to fight against various bacteria that cause human infections.

Antibiotics have saved millions of lives for a century, but increasing resistance to treatment is gradually making them ineffective. According to experts, this resistance of bacteria to existing antibiotics could be responsible for 10 million deaths by 2050. This is why many scientists are looking for new treatment options.

A team from the Inserm-University of Rennes laboratory led by Professor Brice Felden seems to have found a promising way by transforming a bacterial toxin into powerful antibiotics, active against different bacteria responsible for human infections, both Gram positive and negative.

It all started with a discovery in 2011: “We realized that a toxin made by staphylococcus aureus that was supposed to facilitate infection was also able to kill other bacteria in our body. We thought then that if we managed to dissociate the 2 activities of this toxin, we would be able to create a new antibiotic devoid of toxicity,” explains Professor Felden whose research has just been published on Plos Biology.

At the end of this work, two antibiotics were found to be effective against Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa resistant in mice with severe sepsis or skin infections. “In addition, no toxicity to other cells and organs, either in animals or on human cells has been observed,” say the researchers. “We tested them at doses 10 to 50 times the effective dose without observing kidney toxicity.”

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In addition, they noted very few antimicrobial resistance but caution is still needed on this point because the experiment was carried out on short periods, up to 15 days. The next step is to start Phase 1 clinical trials in humans.

The patent has just been licensed and a start-up has just been created for this purpose.

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Shakes Gilles

Editor of The Talking Democrat. He enjoys bike riding, kayaking and playing soccer. On a slow weekend, you'll find him with a book by the lake.