moreScienceDaily (Nov. 28, 2011) - Chemists at Brown University have synthesized a new compound that makes drug-resistant bacteria susceptible again to antibiotics. The compound -- BU-005 -- blocks pumps that a bacterium employs to expel an antibacterial agent called chloramphenicol. The team used a new and highly efficient method for the synthesis of BU-005 and other C-capped dipetptides.
Results appear in Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry.
It's no wonder that medicine's effort to combat bacterial infections is often described as an arms race. When new drugs are developed to combat infections, the bacterial target invariably comes up with a deterrent.
A particularly ingenious weapon in the bacterial arsenal is the drug efflux pump. These pumps are proteins located in the membranes of bacteria that can recognize and expel drugs that have breached the membranes. In some cases, the bacterial pumps have become so advanced they can recognize and expel drugs with completely different structures and mechanisms.
"This turns out to be a real problem in clinical settings, especially when a bacterial pathogen acquires a gene encoding an efflux pump that acts on multiple antibiotics," said Jason Sello, assistant professor of chemistry at Brown University. "In the worst case scenario, a bacterium can go from being drug-susceptible to resistant to five or six different drugs by acquiring a single gene."