Treatment with aminoglycosides, the most commonly used class of antibiotics worldwide, is often a lifesaving necessity. But an estimated 20-60 percent of all patients who receive aminoglycosides, which is also used in treatment of cancer, suffer partial or complete hearing loss. The newly patented antibiotic, N1MS, which is derived from sisomicin, a type of aminoglycoside, works effectively in mice without the risk of causing deafness or kidney damage, the researchers found.

"Our goal is to replace the existing aminoglycosides with ones that are not toxic," said co-senior author of the study Anthony Ricci, professor at Stanford University School of Medicine. The researchers said they hope to test the modified antibiotic in humans as soon as possible.

"If we can eventually prevent people from going deaf from taking these antibiotics, in my mind, we would have been successful," Ricci said. The study found that N1MS cured urinary tract infection in mice just as well as sisomcicin but did not cause deafness. Unlike the parent compound, N1MS was non toxic to the kidneys too, the results showed.

The study presents a promising new approach to generating a new class of novel, non toxic antibiotics, Ricci pointed out."We targeted sites on the drug molecule that were not involved in the antimicrobial activity that kills off infection. This allowed us to reduce toxicity to the ear while retaining antimicrobial action,"  Ricci said. The study appeared in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

 

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