In the present drug discovery scenario, there are very few pharmaceutical companies who invest in research into antibiotics, as majority prefer to focus on profitable drugs for chronic diseases. Most drugs were developed 50 years ago and older antibiotics have lost their effect as the bacteria have become resistant to them.
Merck has developed an antibiotic – platensimycin, which could be used to fight bacteria such as MRSA, resistant to current antibiotics such as oxazolidinone and streptogrami. The antibiotic inhibits an enzyme called FabF, used in fatty acid formations that are building blocks of cell membranes and surfaces for bacteria.
The research team at Merck checked 250,000 natural compounds to discover potential antibacterials. Their research narrowed to platensimycin- a small bacterial molecule made by a bug in South Africa. The antibiotic has been tested on mice and did not have any toxic effect on them. The antibiotic still has to undergo various clinical phases before it can be made commercially viable.