Discovering new antibiotics


Our Directors work with the interests of the wider microbiology community at heart, and their lifelong dedication to advancing microbiology has been a positive influence on what FEMS is today. We are therefore delighted to announce the discovery of a new antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria from the collaborative efforts of Rutgers University New-Brunswick and the biotechnology company, NAICONS Srl., which was founded by FEMS Secretary-General Stefano Donadio from our Board of Directors.

The new antibiotic, pseudouridimycin, was discovered from screening microbial extracts from soil samples in Italy. This new research shows that pseudouridimycin inhibits bacterial RNA polymerase, which is the enzyme responsible for bacterial RNA synthesis. Pseudouridimycin was able to inhibit a wide range of drug-resistant bacterial cultures and cleared Streptococcus pyogenes peritonitis infection in a mouse model. This antibiotic is the first nucleoside-analog inhibitor to selectively inhibit bacterial RNA polymerase and not human RNA polymerases, making it a good antibiotic candidate.

The discovery also underscores the importance of natural products in providing new antibiotics. Microbes have had billions of years to develop ‘chemical weapons’ to kill other microbes. All in all, we really need new chemical classes of antibiotics to address the emerging issue of antibiotic resistance.

Stefano Donadio, FEMS Secretary-General

You can read more about this discovery in the group’s recently published paper in Cell and the press release.

If you are interested in learning more about antimicrobial resistance and global health, you can get involved in our Fighting AMR and One Health campaigns.

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