Let us hope that this new article in Nature turns
out to be as important as it seems.
In a recent publication, scientists from Merck report on title="Wikipedia link"
which is a previously unknown kind of antibiotic. It is
produced by Streptomyces platensis.
(There were a gazillion authors on the paper, so I did not
all include their names. The first authors, noted to have
contributed equally, were Jun Wang and Stephen M. Soisson)
is a selective FabF inhibitor with potent antibiotic properties
(18 May 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature04784;
Received 10 March 2006;
Accepted 6 April 2006...
Here we report the discovery of platensimycin, a previously unknown
class of antibiotics produced by Streptomyces platensis.
Platensimycin demonstrates strong, broad-spectrum Gram-positive
antibacterial activity by selectively inhibiting cellular lipid
...Treatment with platensimycin eradicates Staphylococcus
aureus infection in mice. Because of its unique mode of
action, platensimycin shows no cross-resistance to other key
antibiotic-resistant strains tested, including methicillin-resistant S.
aureus, vancomycin-intermediate S. aureus
and vancomycin-resistant enterococci. Platensimycin is the most potent
inhibitor reported for the FabF/B condensing enzymes, and is the only
inhibitor of these targets that shows broad-spectrum activity, in vivo
efficacy and no observed toxicity...
There is no indication that it has been given to any humans yet, so it
is too early to rejoice on clinical grounds. Even so, the
discovery of what could turn out to be an entirely new class of
antibiotics is reason for joy. The basic science, alone, is
worth a great deal.
The problem of antibiotic resistance, and its implications, are fairly
well-known; I won't elaborate on that here. Let is suffice to
say that we desperately need new antibiotics, with different mechanisms
of action than previous antibiotics This is true especially
for methicillin- and vancomycin-resistant organisms.
Yeah, baby, natural products rule! Thanks, Joseph!
When looking for a new drug that acts via a novel mechanism of action, nature is hard to beat. Fortunately, there are still a couple of visionary drug companies that have preserved their natural products discovery programs. The hit might not itself become the ultimate drug, but it becomes the scaffold for a semi-synthesis campaign.