One of the hardiest fungi on the planet, a fungus known as AMA that lives in Nova Scotia, may be able to do more than survive from the Arctic to the Dead Sea: It may restore the efficacy of antibiotics, say authors of a new study in the journal Nature.
"This will solve one aspect of a daunting problem. AMA rescues the activity of carbapenem antibiotics, so instead of having no antibiotics, there will be some," said Gerry Wright, director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University in Canada.
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With bacteria evolving to evade antibiotics, drug companies have been trying to stay ahead of the game by developing stronger drugs. Bacteria are now able to damage a chemical ring that is present in most antibiotics, which neutralizes the effect of the drug. The use of AMA goes back to a previous strategy of combining an antibiotic with a disabler. The difference in the new study is that the researchers looked to nature to find a molecule that could interfere with bacterial enzymes.
"Natural products -- and especially natural products that come from microbes like bacteria and fungi, are privileged molecules -- in the sense that they are products of evolution themselves, so they are much better at interacting with bacteria," Wright told Time.
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The researchers tested 500 natural molecules and 30,000 synthetic compounds and found that AMA inhibits New Delhi Metallobeta-Lactamase-1 (NDM-1), an antibiotic resistant gene. The World Health Organization has called NDM-1 a global public health threat. Mice infected with pneumoniae with NDM-1 resistance recovered with help from ADA.
"The idea of rescuing our old antibiotics, is something that folks are starting to realize is not only a good idea, but doable," Wright said.
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