Shield eases antibiotic’s toxicity

CARDIFF U. (UK) — New research is expected to expand the use of the antibiotic colistin, effective in fighting infection, but underused because it is toxic to kidneys and nerves.

Elaine Ferguson, postdoctoral research scientist at Cardiff University developed a technique that attaches nano-sized biodegradable polymers to the antibiotic drug.

“The technology we’ve developed came as a direct response to an urgent medical need for better antibiotics to safely treat patients with life-threatening infections,” Ferguson says.

“Very few new antimicrobial drugs have emerged despite intensive research, with only two new classes of antibiotics developed in the last 30 years.”

“The polymer shields the drug molecule making it less toxic to the body while, at sites of infection, there is an enzyme present which removes the polymer-specifically activating the drug where it is needed.

“Our new approach allows existing effective therapies to be improved to help patients with severe infections who may otherwise suffer significant side effects after treatment,” she says.

The research was supported by The Severnside Alliance for Translational Research (SARTRE) – a major collaboration between Cardiff and Bristol Universities designed to translate medical research to improve lives.

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