New antibiotic class shows promise as possible gonorrhea treatment

A new class of antibiotics displayed high levels of efficacy against Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections in the laboratory setting, according to a study published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

The World Health Organization has identified widespread resistance to older and cheaper antibiotics in gonorrhea strains around the world, suggesting the infection is becoming more difficult — and sometimes impossible — to treat.

For the study, researchers pitted closthioamide — a new class of antibiotics yet to be tested in humans or animals — against 149 samples of N. gonorrhoeae extracted from patients with infections in the throat, urethra, cervix and rectum.

The antibiotics successfully inhibited the bacteria in all but three of the samples.

"The imminent threat of untreatable antibiotic-resistant infectious diseases, including gonorrhea, is a global problem, for which we urgently need new antibiotics," said John Heap, PhD, a lecturer on synthetic biology at Imperial College London and one of the study's authors. "This new finding might help us take the lead in the arms race against antimicrobial resistance."

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