Can cancer drugs help overcome antibiotic resistance? In a new study published in the Cell journal Chemistry and Biology, Dr. Gerry Wright and colleagues have systematically screened drugs called protein kinase inhibitors and found several candidate compounds that can prevent antibiotic resistance.
With the increased (and almost ubiquitous) use of antibiotics -- from taking antibiotics unnecessarily to fight a virus to the overuse in antibacterial handsoaps -- resistance to we are rapidly running out of effective antibiotics. In an attempt to identify potential new drugs to prevent or overcome such resistance, Dr. Wright’s group tested 80 protein kinase inhibitors, many of which were developed as anti-cancer agents.
So, what’s the connection? Protein kinases are molecules in the cell that respond rapidly to external stimuli. For example, an increase in growth-promoting hormones in the body leads to the activation of protein kinases and results in rapid changes in the cell that leads to growth and proliferation. Protein kinases act as the middle-man that handles the exchange from the outside environment to the response of the cell. Most of the time this is a good thing. It allows for regrowth of skin after wounding and allows for the turnover of the cells in our body to create new ones. Prolonged over-activation of these kinases, however, can be detrimental and is commonly found in cancer cells. New drugs that prevent the activation of these protein kinases (aka protein kinase inhibitors) are being developed to help fight cancers and prevent such growth and proliferation. It turns out that many of these same protein kinases may also be inappropriately activated and therefore contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance. This study sheds some light into new ways to overcome antibiotic resistance.
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