Researchers at Simon Fraser University’s Brinkman Lab in Burnaby participated in a landmark study that tests how a new drug can kill a range of superbugs – including some bacteria now resistant to all common antibiotics.
According to a March 3 release, researchers at the University of Cincinnati discovered two inexpensive chemicals work to kill disease-causing bacteria more effectively when combined.
The U.S. researchers combined the chemicals — ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid and acidified nitrite — to create the new drug known as AB569.
SFU researchers then used computers to analyze data from bacteria treated with the new drug. The results from the study indicated the drug can kill pathogens identified by the World Health Organization as urgently requiring new treatments, and posing the greatest threat to human health.
For example, the top three “priority pathogens” include Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a type of bacteria that can cause infections in the lungs, urinary tract, or blood that is known as the leading cause of morbidity in patients with cystic fibrosis.
Erin Gill, a PhD researcher at the University of British Columbia during the study and now at the Brinkman Lab, was involved in the analysis. She told Black Press Media by phone that it was inspiring to be part of “such a large, collaborative project.”
“It’s really important work to be able to contribute to the discovery of potentially novel drugs that can help to kill bacteria, because we’re running out of them,” Gill said.
The lab’s lead database developer Geoff Winsor agreed.
“We have a growing crisis with antibiotics becoming less and less effective, and treatments are failing,” Winsor said. “That’s why it’s important to test and develop new drugs and approaches to treat disease-causing bacteria that are highly resistant to existing antibiotics.”
The new drug is currently in the first phase of human trials that are being managed by Toronto-based biotechnology firm Arch Biopartners.
“I think they’re going to have some results from that soon,” Winsor said.
Correction: This story has been updated. The University of Cincinnati was responsible for testing the new AB569 drug, not the SFU Brinkman Lab.