A safer antibiotic

Illustration of Dr. working on a pill

Treatment with aminoglycosides, the most commonly used class of antibiotics worldwide, is often a lifesaving necessity for many bacterial diseases, including pneumonia, peritonitis and sepsis. But an estimated 20-60 percent of patients who receive these antibiotics suffer partial or complete hearing loss.

Now, in a study published online in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers led by Stanford otolaryngologists Anthony Ricci, PhD, and Alan Cheng, MD, report they have developed a modified version of an aminoglycoside that works effectively in mice without risking deafness or kidney damage, another common side effect.

“We targeted sites on the drug molecule that were not involved in the antimicrobial activity that kills off infection,” Ricci says. The newly patented antibiotic is N1MS, which is derived from sisomicin, a type of aminoglycoside. N1MS cured urinary tract infection in mice just as well as the parent compound, but did not cause deafness, study results show.

The researchers hope to test versions of the modified antibiotic in humans soon.