Carbapenem

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Structure of the carbapenem backbone

Carbapenems are a class of antibiotics which act against a wide range of bacteria. Their structure is difficult for bacterial enzymes to break down.[1] They were originally developed from a product of Streptomyces cattleya.[2]

Carbapenems are one of the "antibiotics of last resort" for many bacterial infections, such as Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Klebsiella pneumoniae.[3]

Recently, alarm has been raised about an "Indian superbug".[4] This is a strain resistant to Carapenems, which was discovered in Delhi. This strain produces an enzyme which chops up the antibiotic molecule.

At present there are no new antibiotics in development to replace carbapenems. The worldwide spread of the gene which codes for that enzyme is a potential nightmare scenario.

References[change | change source]

  1. Livermore D.M. & Woodford N (2000). "Carbapenemases: a problem in waiting?". Current Opinion in Microbiology 3 (5): 489–95. doi:10.1016/S1369-5274(00)00128-4 . ISSN 1369-5274 . PMID 11050448 .
  2. Birnbaum J. et al (1985). "Carbapenems, a new class of beta-lactam antibiotics. Discovery and development of imipenem/cilastatin". American Journal of Medicine 78 (6A): 3–21. doi:10.1016/0002-9343(85)90097-X . ISSN 0002-9343 . PMID 3859213 .
  3. Smith, Stephen (2010). "Deadly bacteria's foothold spurs study: Mass. specialists try to halt spread". The Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/news/health/articles/2010/10/07/mass_specialists_to_study_drug_resistant_germs_spread/.
  4. Pennington, Hugh (2010). "Can we stop the Indian superbug?". The Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/7939687/Can-we-stop-the-Indian-superbug.html.