The Antimicrobial Discovery Center at Northeastern University in Boston, US announced the discovery of Teixobactin, the first new class of antibiotics in nearly 30 years.
The discovery is a breakthrough because bacteria are increasingly becoming resistant to existing antibiotics. The rampant misuse and overuse of antibiotics has been blamed for this increasing bacterial resistance. Also, pharmaceutical companies had diverted resources from the study of antibiotics to the development of more lucrative cures to life-style diseases.
Teixobactin works by blocking the ability of bacteria to build their cell walls. However, this works only for gram-positive bacteria like MRSA and Staph Aureus. Gram-negative bacteria like E.coli and Klebsiella cannot be killed with this antibiotic.
It is expected to take 2 more years to commence human trials. After that it could take another 5-10 years for the drug to be available in the market.
The technique of discovering Teixobactin is also very interesting. The researchers at Northeastern worked with the NIH to develop iChip which can be used to screen bacteria that previously could not be cultured under lab conditions. It is hoped that this technique can be used to discover more of such antibiotics.