Drug made in Perth could wipe out TB and gonorrhoea

Dr Graham Melrose has developed an antibiotic that could defeat superbugs and other diseases including tuberculosis and ...
NADIA BUDIHARDJO

Dr Graham Melrose has developed an antibiotic that could defeat superbugs and other diseases including tuberculosis and gonorrhoea.

A superbug killer being developed in Western Australia has shown potential in helping wipe out tuberculosis and gonorrhoea.

Perth based biotech Recce Ltd, headed by octogenarian Dr Graham Melrose, has found its breakthrough antibiotic literally explodes resistant superbugs.

And laboratory tests have now shown it's able to kill the pathogenic bacteria present in TB and strains of venereal disease.

Petrie dishes with superbugs on the left and a clean plate to the right - after a drug developed in Perth has killed them.
NADIA BUDIHARDJO

Petrie dishes with superbugs on the left and a clean plate to the right - after a drug developed in Perth has killed them.

TB is one of the world's most threatening diseases and kills more than one million people a year while the World Health Organisation estimates 106 million new cases of gonorrhoea globally.

READ MORE: Gonorrhoea may soon be untreatable, Britain's chief medical officer

Melrose said it was rewarding and encouraging to see the Recce antibiotic expanding its range of potential applications.

"Our first testing showed that our drug could kill bacteria present in both diseases," he said.

"We're now assessing our priorities as far as appropriate field trials in the US are concerned."

Melrose said conventional drug treatments for TB and strains of VD were being consumed at a rapid rate and new, more effective options were needed.

"Commercial antibiotics have largely been developed from natural cultures. I took a different approach," he said.

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"I started from the premise that a synthetic antibiotic could be designed to thwart the mutations that a superbug might create to overcome the drug," he said.

The new drug attacks the protein wall of the superbug releasing two atmospheres of pressure and the bug literally explodes.

"It works like a key and a lock. The drug is the key and it fits into the protein like a lock," Melrose said.

The scientist said when the superbug subsequently mutated, many conventional antibiotics started to lose their effectiveness because the key didn't work anymore. The lock had changed.

"The Recce antibiotic is, effectively, a master key. It doesn't matter how much the bug changes, the key always fits," he said.

The new generation antibiotic is now in the testing stage in the US, ahead of a series of stringent human trials for the all-important Federal Drug Administration tick of approval.

"If successful, this could be the first new class of antibiotics for humans in some 40 years,"  Melrose said.

"So far, the drug has proved it maintains its effectiveness against superbugs even as they mutate to combat it."

 - watoday.com.au

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