Doctors may be able to watch for invading microbes with a fluorescent antibiotic
Glowing antibiotics may dim the chance of severe bacterial infections, according to a study published October 15 in Nature Communications.
Researchers made the experimental drug by fusing a fluorescent tag to vancomycin, an antibiotic that embeds itself in the outer walls of certain disease-causing microbes. The tag allowed scientists to see bacterial invaders in live mice and human cadavers. The method could help doctors thwart serious infections by spying them during early, treatable stages.
“It’s a pretty smart approach,” says biochemist Jianghong Rao of Stanford University who was not involved in the study. Most importantly, he says, vancomycin and the fluorescent tag are already individually approved for human use, so the modified drug should sail through safety tests.
Lead researcher Marleen van Oosten of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands says the method may help