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University of Notre Dame team IDs new class of antibiotics

Researchers from the University of Notre Dame may have discovered a new class of antibiotics to combat deadly bacteria like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, which pose serious threats to public health.

Led by Mayland Chang and Shahriar Mobashery, investigators identified the new class of antibiotics, called oxadiazoles, by using virtual screening to sift through 1.2 million compounds.

Researchers found that the oxadiazoles work by inhibiting a penicillin-binding protein, PBP2a, and the biosynthesis of the cell wall that enables MRSA to resist other drugs. In mouse models, the class of drugs was able to ward off infection of MRSA. The oxadiazoles were also effective when taken orally, an attractive feature since only one marketed oral antibiotic for MRSA exists–vancomycin (Vancocin). Most moderate to severe infections of MRSA need to be treated by intravenous antibiotics like trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim), doxycycline (Vibramycin) and clindamycin (Cleocin). Resistance to each of these drugs already exists and is growing.

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