McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Fertility drug may help in fighting superbugs

Published: August 20, 2015
Eric Brown
Eric Brown, professor, Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, and member, Michael G. DeGroote Infectious Disease Research Institute

The popular fertility drug clomiphene repels invasion by major infections such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), McMaster University researchers have found.

The finding sheds light on the ways biological systems interact, and is a new promising lead in the fight against multidrug resistant bacteria infection which has been a growing global issue.

The discovery came as a result of the team of biochemists of the Michael G. DeGroote Infectious Disease Research Institute taking a different approach to finding a way to tackle infections. Much attention has been given by others to finding drug combinations that together to extend how well current antibiotic drugs work. The McMaster team reversed the process, and looked for drug combinations that worked against, or antagonistic towards, each other.

In a paper published this week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), they report that in using high throughput screening of already-approved drugs, they found the clomiphene inhibits bacterial cell wall development and improves the action of penicillin-class antibiotics, particularly against the potent MRSA infection.

"The discovery of the effectiveness of this fertility drug proves the efficiency of drug-drug interactions, not just in the clinic, but in discovering new drug leads," said Eric Brown, professor of biochemistry and biomedical sciences and a member of the research institute.

"The discovery is humbling, because it highlights the complexity of bacteria cell systems that we are only beginning to get a handle on."

He added that it will be some time before the discovery will reach clinical use.

The study was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

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