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Drug developed to combat Alzheimer’s disease could be used to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Posted December 21, 2018

Medicine is always created to fulfil a specific purpose. It has to be tried not only to make sure it is effective, but also if it is safe. Knowing all possible side effects is a crucial result of extensive laboratory and clinical tests. However, some drugs can be used to treat other conditions as well. University of Queensland-led research revealed that a drug, initially developed to treat Alzheimer’s disease, could target dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Already tried drugs are easier to approve, because their safety is already tested. Image credit: Danny S. via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The main benefit of using drugs to fulfil new roles is that testing is already completed. In this case this drug has already went through the phase one and two human clinical trials and it seems like it is well tolerated by human subjects. Finding a new function for this medicine would be quick, because tolerance tests are already being done. This means that at least in theory if the drug is proved to be effective at fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it could be introduced sooner. The medicine in question is metal transport drug, called PBT2.

It is believed that in Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s high heavy metal levels are released in the brain, allowing these diseases to progress. The main task of the PBT2 is to disrupt the interaction between metals and human cells, which would reduce the levels of heavy metals in the brain, alleviating the condition. Scientists that heavy metals are also contributing to antibiotic resistance and so they hypothesize that PBT2 could be used to target antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Scientists say that they are hoping to reverse it in such a way that ineffective antibiotics become effective again in treating infectious diseases.

This news provides hopes because antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest threats to global public health. It is estimated  that the problem began around 30 years go and over this time many species of bacteria have acquired resistance to a wide range of antibiotics. Professor Mark von Itzstein from Griffith University, one of the authors of the paper, said: “This has rendered current antibiotic treatment therapies ineffective and led to 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 more than 10 million deaths per year”.

It’s only a matter of time when antibiotic-resistant bacteria is going to become a major cause of death globally. New solutions are being developed, but the process is long and complicated. By repurposing already tried drugs scientists can cut the time needed for clinical testing.

 

Source: University of Queensland

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