UCL School of Pharmacy


New antibacterials and resistance modifiers to counter TB

16 February 2018

New compounds based on natural products from the Persian Shallot have been shown to be antibacterial, inhibit biofilms and reverse antibiotic-resistance.


In the ongoing study, led by Professor Simon Gibbons and Dr Sanjib Bhakta (Birkbeck College), the research team isolated natural products from Persian shallots, which had pronounced activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MIC = 0.1 mg/L).

They then synthesised a series of analogues that not only retained antibacterial activity against the tuberculosis producing bug, but also inhibited biofilms made by Mycobacteria and inhibited antibiotic efflux – mechanisms that contribute to multiple antibiotic resistance.

Professor Gibbons said: "nature is an amazingly creative chemist and it is likely that plants such as the Persian shallot produce these chemicals as a defence against microbes in their environment. Being able to utilise the natural products and then make analogues with additional activities is an exciting avenue of our research."

Dr Sanjib Bhakta, one of the study's authors, from Birkbeck's Department of Biological Sciences, said: "Despite a concerted global effort to prevent the spread of tuberculosis, approximately 10 million new cases and two million deaths were reported in 2016. In searching for new antibacterials, we tend to focus on molecules that are potent enough to be developed commercially as new drug entities by themselves. However, in this study we show that by inhibiting the key intrinsic resistance properties of TB, one could increase the effects of existing antibiotic treatment and reverse the tide of already existing drug resistance."

The study was covered by: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-42751095 and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-5290847/Species-onion-used-fight-antibiotic-resistance-scientists-believe.html

Professor Simon Gibbons 0207  753 5913

Image: Allium. Credit Ken Wiedemann.