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4 Jun 2013

New antibiotic '100-times more effective at treating TB'

The KKL-35 antibiotic could treat anthrax and tuberculosis by disrupting trans-translation.

A team of scientists led by Penn State University's Kenneth Keiler have discovered a new antibiotic that could be 100-times more effective than current therapies at treating tuberculosis (TB).

Researchers analysed and tested thousands of molecules in order to identify those which effectively disturbed the process of trans-translation in bacteria - one called KKL-35 has shown most promise.

This biological procedure helps ensure that protein synthesis functions properly in these pathogens, so its disruption can prevent the multiplication and spread of bacteria, curbing infection.

Experimenters tested the efficacy of molecules at disturbing trans-translation in Shigella, Bacillus anthracis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains. Successful inhibition by KKL-35 suggests it could have clinical applications.

"In our laboratory experiments, we found no mutant strains that were resistant to KKL-35," Keller said. "Resistant mutants probably would evolve eventually, but at least it looks like it will be very difficult."

The antibiotic was up to 100-times more effective at restricting growth of bacteria, but the outcome was only witnessed in a petri dish - a clinical trial in human volunteers may be the next step for determining benefits of the drug.

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