Dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria could soon be treated with a drug originally proposed to treat Alzheimer’s disease, according to new joint research conducted by Griffith University and The University of Queensland.
Researchers investigated the antibacterial properties of PBT2, a metal transport drug initially developed as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease.
Director of Griffith’s Institute for Glycomics Professor Mark von Itzstein said it’s exciting news, given that antibiotic resistance is currently one of the greatest threats to public health in Australia and globally.
“Over the past 30 years, many species of bacteria have acquired resistance to a wide range of antibiotics,” he said.
“This has rendered current antibiotic treatment therapies ineffective and increasing numbers of deaths due to infectious disease agents in Australia.
“If new solutions aren’t developed, it’s estimated that by 2050, antimicrobial resistant bacteria will account for over 10 million deaths per year world-wide.
“We’ve found one more weapon in our arsenal to help save millions of lives across the world.”
Professor Mark Walker from UQ’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences said that, despite PBT2 not making it to market for these diseases, it still may have great use.
“This particular drug progressed tp phase 1 and 2 human clinical trials for Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s, and was shown to be well tolerated by human subjects,” he said.
“PBT2 is designed to disrupt the interaction between metals and human cells, which was thought would reduce heavy metal levels in the brain.
“With this in mind, and knowing that disrupting metal content can induce toxicity in bacteria, we examined the effects of PBT2 against a wide range of antibiotic resistant bacteria.”
The results indicated the drug had the capacity to break antibiotic-resistance in bacteria, helping fight infectious diseases.
“Repurposing PBT2 as an antibiotic breaker represents a new strategy in the fight against antibiotic resistant bacteria,” Professor Walker said.
“We may be able to reverse antibiotic resistance in such a way that ineffective antibiotics become effective again in treating infectious diseases.”
The research was conducted by the Institute for Glycomics, Griffith University, and the Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre, UQ, and has been published in mBio (DOI: 10.1128/mBio.02391-18).