Scientists in Utah have developed a promising new drug to treat life-threatening infections caused by multi drug resistant and extensively drug resistant bacteria. Patients fighting infections such as Lyme disease, MRSA, tuberculosis, and E. coli may soon have powerful help, according to KSLTV in Utah.
An inspired mission
The recent discovery was the result of a collaboration between Curza, a small-molecule drug development company with a special focus on antibiofilm technology, and the University of Utah’s Dustin Williams, a research professor in Orthopaedics, and Ryan Looper, associate professor in Chemistry.
During a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dustin Williams saw impoverished children suffering from infections and was inspired to find a cure. The technological breakthrough, coming after Christmas in 2014, produced a unique class of antimicrobial compounds, called Curza Compounds, or CZs. These compounds kill, disperse, and inhibit the growth of bacterial biofilms, even those that are strongly resistant to antibiotic treatment.
One of the largest planetary threats to humans
The overuse of antibiotics has caused germs to mutate and become progressively stronger, ever-evolving new ways to resist antibiotics. Biofilms are the main line of protective defense that bacteria use against antibiotics. The sticky outer layer of a biofilm makes drug penetration difficult and protects the bacteria enclosed within the film. Curza's compounds act in a triple way by inhibiting the growth of biofilms, dispersing the bacteria within by breaking down their polysaccharide layers, and killing the exposed bacteria.
Antibiotic resistant bacteria are one of the largest threats to human health worldwide. Simple infections that were once easily cured with standard drugs now often lead to serious illness and thousands of deaths.
In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned: “Antibiotic resistance is one of the top five threats to the safety of our people. Drug resistance already leads to more than 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths each year in the United States. These numbers will continue to rise unless action is taken to address the problem of drug resistance.”
Drugs of great promise
The new CZ compounds have shown great promise in the lab when tested in petri dishes and on rats. “CZ compounds have been shown to be between 10 times to 200 times more effective at killing biofilms than traditional antibiotics," said Williams.
The FDA has placed Curza's compounds on its fast track approval program with clinical trials beginning soon using healthy people with strong immune systems. It could be three to five years before the drugs are released for public use.