Antibiotic resistance is considered a global health threat, as in 2014, as study commissioned by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom predicted that, in the case when the problem will be left unchecked, more people would be likely to die from antibiotic resistant superbugs than from cancer in the next 35 years. The researchers are at a critical point, where they feel compelled to develop new antibiotics, being informed by knowledge of how superbugs are resistant to this medication.

In a paper published in the Structure journal, the researchers from the McGill University present in atomic detail how specific bacterial enzymes, known as kinases, confer resistance to macrolide antibiotics, being a widely used class of antibiotics, also an alternative medication for patients that present allergies to penicillin. The study was able to show that these kinases recognize and chemically destroy macrolide antibiotics.

After seven years of research, the scientists were able to conclude that the kinase enzymes have an impressive ability to confer resistance to many different macrolide antibiotics, as the two enzymes were studied in detail, proving that they are essentially able to confer resistance to all macrolide antibiotics that are currently in use.

The next steps will constitute the development of new and improved macrolide antibiotics, which will take another two to three years, before a period of testing.