ANTIB.PILLS
With bugs growing into superbugs and new antibiotics few and far between, the design of a new vancomycin based antibiotic from The Scripps Institute is welcome.REUTERS

A new vancomycin-based antibiotic developed promises to be effective against many of the antibiotic resistant bacteria.

The pill comes with double anti-microbial action, according to scientists at The Scripps Research Institute.

"This is the prototype of analogues that once introduced will still be in clinical use a generation or maybe even two generations from now," said Dale L Boger, the Richard and Alice Cramer Professor of Chemistry at TSRI.

The report by Boger and members of his laboratory was published online ahead of print by the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Isolated from soil microbes, vancomycin has been in use for almost 50 years now and works against the dreaded methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). But slowly, cases of antibiotic resistance have begun to emerge.

Vancomycin works by disrupting the bacteria replication process. The resistance comes from a single amino-acid alteration that some bacteria make to prevent the antibiotic molecule from getting a firm grip on bacterial cell walls. This bacterial trick has meant vancomycin's potency dropped by a factor of about 1,000.

But last year Boger's lab upped the ante again with another trick using organic chemistry to help the molecule bind to the walls. The latest study adds yet another feature to increase the molecule's potency.

In lab dish tests, the new vancomycin analog proved highly effective against the usual vancomycin-sensitive bacteria as well as vancomycin-resistant MRSA and enterococcal bacteria.

Superbugs Rise

Bacteria develop resistance to drugs sooner than new drugs are developed. Only two new antibiotics have been approved since 2009. The last new antibiotic to be introduced was ceftaroline, in 2010 but it took just a year for the first staph germ to emerge drug-resistant.

The NIH has recently found a new strain of bacteria with resistance to most antibiotics. The carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) are becoming more common, and scientists are puzzled from where the bacteria are exchanging genetic material, writes NBC.

Bacteria reproduce by splitting in half, but they can also exchange genetic material. This DNA exchange helps them evolve and can help them develop resistance to antibiotics.

More than two million people are infected by drug-resistant germs each year, and 23,000 die of their infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.