Peptic Ulcer Drug Tames Superbugs

A bismuth-based drug typically used in the treatment of peptic ulcers could potentially help to prevent the spread of multi-drug resistant bacteria.

AsianScientist (May 3, 2018) – In a study published in the journal Nature Communications, a research group in Hong Kong has found that a drug used in the treatment of peptic ulcers could help prevent antimicrobial resistance.

Antimicrobial resistant superbugs are a major public health issue of global concern. Drug-resistant infections kill around 700,000 people worldwide each year. This figure could increase to ten million by 2050, exceeding the number of deaths caused by cancers, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In the present study, a research team led by Professor Sun Hongzhe and Dr. Richard Kao Yi-Tsun of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) have discovered that colloidal bismuth subcitrate (CBS), a drug used to treat Helicobacter pylori-related peptic ulcers, can help prevent antimicrobial resistance.

The researchers found that the bismuth-based metallodrug effectively paralyzes multi-resistant superbugs, including carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae and carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae, by inhibiting New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase 1 (NDM1), an enzyme that confers these bacteria with resistance against almost all commonly used beta-lactam antibiotics.

In a mouse model of NDM-1 resistant bacterial infection, a combination of CBS and carbapenem raised the eventual survival rate of the infected mice by more than 25 percent compared to carbapenem treatment alone.

“There is currently no effective approach to overcome the NDM superbug. Bismuth has been used clinically for decades. Knowing that it can tame the NDM superbug is like ‘a good rain after a long drought’ for the scientific community,” said study co-author Dr. Ho Pak Leung, director of the HKU Carol Yu Centre for Infection.

The research team is now focusing its efforts on using CBS-based therapy in other animal infection models, such as in the treatment of urinary tract infections. They hope to offer a more extensive approach to combating antibiotic resistant superbugs.

“CBS has been clinically used for a long period of time in many countries and regions including mainland China and Hong Kong, significantly enhancing the eradication rate of resistant H. pylori. Surprisingly, no bismuth-resistant strain has been reported even after a long-term use,” Sun added.

“We hope CBS-based combination therapy will open up a new horizon for the treatment of infection caused by superbugs, serving as a new and more economical therapy to solve the problem of antimicrobial resistance.”

The article can be found at: Wang et al. (2018) Bismuth Antimicrobial Drugs Serve as Broad-spectrum Metallo-β-lactamase Inhibitors.


Source: University of Hong Kong; Photo: Shutterstock.
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