Oxford researchers have created a drug that can help old antibiotics fight bacteria effectively again. He summons all attacks on himself.

Modern medicine today is looking for a way to deal with antibiotic-resistant superbugs. The authors of the new work have created a drug: it can disable the enzymes that bacteria use to protect themselves from drugs.

Bacteria can evolve, therefore, when interacting with an antibiotic, the surviving units develop a gene for resistance to this drug and actively distribute it. This continues until the medication is useless.

The pace of development of new antibiotics is slowing down, and bacteria that are resistant to everything already exist. Therefore, it is now important to find alternative ways of dealing with them.

The authors of new work from the Oxford Institute for Antimicrobial Research Ineos investigated how you can improve the performance of a class of antibiotics called carbapenems. They are considered to be one of the latest effective methods of fighting superbugs. Nevertheless, some types of bacteria have already been able to cope with them, they have developed enzymes – metal-beta-lactamases (MBLs), which break down drugs.

Therefore, the researchers decided to find a drug that could act on these enzymes and restore the work of this class of antibiotics. The authors studied several hundred thousand different chemicals to find those that might affect MBLs. Also, the required substance should not interfere with human proteins.

Scientists have identified a group called indole carboxylates, which mimics the binding sites of carbapenems. The MBL enzyme will interact with these molecules, not with antibiotics, so the latter can get to work – killing bacteria.

The drug, along with the antibiotic, was tested in mice, and it was shown to be five times more effective than if the rodents were given just the antibiotic.