A 20-year-old drug widely used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) may also help fight obstinate bacteria that cause multi-resistance towards classic antibiotics, researchers have found.
Glatiramer acetate is known to be a safe drug that does not have many serious side effects.
Results from the experiments conducted in the laboratory have shown that the this drug kills half of the Pseudomonas bacteria — a genus of Gram-negative bacteria — in specimens from patients with cystic fibrosis who are often exposed to the bacteria in the lungs.
“The fact that Glatiramer acetate now turns out to be anti-bacterial is completely new to us,” said Thomas Vorup-Jensen, Professor at the Aarhus University in Denmark.
“We see great perspectives in the discovery because our data shows that the drug is effective against infections that occur because of what are known as Gram-negative bacteria. These bacteria form the basis of diseases such as pneumonia, cystitis and septic shock.”
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a bacteria that causes urinary tract infections, respiratory system infections, dermatitis, soft tissue infections, bacteremia, bone and joint infections, gastrointestinal infections and a variety of systemic infections, particularly in patients with severe burns and in cancer and AIDS patients.
“The discovery gives researchers greater knowledge about how the drug works on sclerosis patients as well as the opportunity to develop a more effective treatment for affected patients,” said Vorup-Jensen in the paper published in the journal Scientific Reports.
According to a survey by the British government, by 2050 resistant bacteria will all-in-all kill more people around the world than cancer.
But neither the pharmaceutical industry nor researchers have so far succeeded in developing new types of antibiotics that can beat the bacteria.