Antimalarial drug may point way to new class of antibiotics

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Chemical cousins of an often-used antimalarial drug may help treat serious antibiotic-resistant infections, new research shows.

If further testing shows these compounds to be safe and effective, the chemicals would represent a new class of antibiotics for the treatment of such problems as tuberculosis, and staphylococcal, streptococcal, and yeast infections.

These drugs, originally developed to treat malaria and other parasitic infections, are not usually thought of as antibiotic agents.

"Our results represent an important lead on a new class of antibiotics," said Calvin Kunin, Pomerene professor of internal medicine at Ohio State University. "If these drugs were to be developed by a pharmaceutical company, they have the potential to treat a wide variety of life-threatening and drug-resistant infections.

"Based on laboratory experiments, these compounds are as active as many currently used drugs. They have the same ability to kill bacteria -- even better in some instances -- than currently available drugs."

Kunin cautions that the drugs must be tested for safety and efficacy before they could be used in humans. The research was published in a recent issue of the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

Kunin stumbled onto the antimicrobial activity of one antimalarial drug about five years ago. "We discovered by accident that one of these drugs had some antibacterial activity of

Contact: Calvin Kunin
Ohio State University

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