Old and discarded antibiotic compounds could become life-saving drugs of future

Scientists have shown the possibility of old and discarded antibiotic compounds as being vital in our fight against drug-resistant infections in the future.

Researchers at University of Leeds have shown through a new study that it is possible to use these old antibiotic compounds for development of new antibiotics.

According to the team back the mid-20th century when antibiotic research was at its peak quite a few compounds were formulated in the research phase, but only a small portion of these actually made it to the production line and were used against infections. With modern-day diseases becoming increasingly resistant to existing drugs, biological scientists and chemists at Leeds are now re-examining these old compounds, applying advances in science and technology to test more precisely whether they could still hold the key to a future drug.

In the latest research scientists found that a compound identified in the 1940s could now be a realistic contender as the basis of a new antibiotic drug. A family of compounds, known as the actinorhodins, was originally identified as having weak antibiotic properties, but was not taken forward for development into a drug.

Previously scientists did not fully differentiate the individual compounds within the family when they examined them, leading to a less than precise picture of their properties. This prompted team behind the latest research to divide the family and select a specific compound (y-ACT) for further evaluation, using an array of 21st century approaches, to assess its potential and to understand how it works against bacteria.

Researchers say that this compound is worth serious consideration as the basis for a new drug to combat certain types of bacterial infections. Scientists say that (y-ACT) exhibits potent antibacterial activity against two important representatives of the ESKAPE class of pathogens, which are bacteria that have developed the ability to ‘escape’ the action of existing drugs.