A team of researchers from the David Braley Centre for Antibiotic Discovery at Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, McMaster, has uncovered two antibiotics that belong to a new functional class of glycopeptides.
The newly discovered bacterial compound which is named corbomycin and a previously known glycopeptide antibiotic complestatin were found to show a novel mode of action.
The antibiotics function by binding to the peptidoglycan layer of the cell wall and blocking the action of peptidoglycan hydrolases which are essential for remodeling of the cell wall during growth.
The researchers identified the new biological activity by using the phylogeny of biosynthetic genes with the lack of known resistance determinants in bacteria to help predict divergent members of the glycopeptide family of antibiotics.
Unlike penicillin-like antibiotics that kill the bacteria by preventing the formation of the cell wall, corbomycin and complestatin work by preventing the wall from being broken down, making it unable for the cells to divide.
Corbomycin and complestatin also showed low levels of resistance development and were effective in reducing bacterial infection in a mouse model of skin MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) infection.
The researchers confirmed the site of action of the antibiotics using cell imaging techniques which were performed in collaboration with a team from Université de Montréal.
The research concludes that the discovery could mark a promising clinical candidate in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.