Antibiotic resistant bacteria (Shutterstock)

Ben-Gurion University researchers recently introduced a novel method for screening and detection designed to find new treatments for a variety of illnesses.

Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev recently announced a breakthrough method to screen and detect new antibiotics. This paves the way for identifying medications that can inhibit the growth of bacteria, cancer and other illnesses. The findings were published in Chemical Science.

The research team at the Department of Chemistry at Ben-Gurion University, led by Dr. Barak Akabayov, created a method that will lead to the development of new antibiotics that target the small RNA region in the ribosome.

Ribosome is the protein-manufacturing machinery of all living cells targeted by antibiotics. Inhibiting ribosomal activity in cells ultimately leads to cell death, a desired outcome for those with bacterial infections, cancer and other debilitating diseases. However, identifying RNA molecules and various proteins in cells in order for the correct drug to be prescribed is a complex challenge.

“With the constant decline in antibiotic agents approved each year by the FDA, there is an urgent need for new antibiotics to address the approaching antibiotic-resistance crisis,” Akabayov said in a statement.

Akabayov added that his team’s “workflow design is applicable not only to antibiotics targeting the ribosome RNA, but also for other RNA targets, such as RNA viruses responsible for diseases such as hepatitis or HIV, as well as for other conditions such as cancer.”

The new screening process uses “nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) with machine learning algorithms that enable the computational design of novel drugs based on small molecular fragments,” according to the BGU statement.

Through this process, researchers developed an enormous database of large molecules that contain small fragments that bind to a specific region of the ribosome and inhibit its activity. With this information, they hope to develop new antibiotics to fight illnesses.

Hospitals and communities worldwide are facing significant problems due to an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), drug-resistant infections kill 700,000 people worldwide each year and estimates that this could increase to 10 million deaths per year by 2050.

“The novel method developed by Dr. Akabayov provides an efficient, fast and cost-effective route to identifying novel antibiotics that inhibit the ribosome,” Dr. Galit Mazooz Perlmuter, Senior VP Business Development Bio-Pharma at BGN Technologies said. “This is extremely important in light of the looming antibiotic-resistance crisis that is predicted by the WHO and other health agencies worldwide.”

The development, funded by the Israel Innovation Authority, has a patent pending.