Antibiotic resistance forces the research community to seek new solutions against microbial infections. A team of scientists from the University of Cordoba in Spain has proven efficacy of rhodomyrtone, a molecule extracted from a plant in Southeast Asia, against pneumococcus.
Growing resistance to antibiotics by some of the most common bacteria has become a worldwide problem. Effective antibiotics today might not be effective anymore in 40 or 50 years. To find new alternatives, Manuel J. Rodríguez, researcher at the University of Cordoba, began studying the effects of rhodomyrtone as an antibiotic to fight infections caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, a Gram- positive bacterium commonly known as pneumococcus.
Rhodomyrtone is a molecule extracted from a Southeast Asian plant known as Rhodomyrtus tomentosa, which effect on Gram-positive bacteria had been already tested by a research group in Thailand. Then, Rodriguez decided to specifically study its possible antibiotic effect on pneumococcus strains, the bacteria responsible for diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, bronchitis and sinusitis.
Death of bacteria
The Spanish team found that the substance was effective in pneumococcus; and they determined the amount needed to kill the bacteria or inhibiting their growth. This new substance could help facing diseases caused by pneumococcus, when current antibiotics do not work as well due to resistance.
To understand how the molecule acts on pneumococcus, the behavior of enzymes and metabolites was analyzed after treatment with this new substance. Some of the enzymes and metabolites altered after exposure to rhodomyrtone were involved in the synthesis of the pneumococcal capsule, a mucous layer which covers the bacteria, making it resistant to phagocytosis, and is a virulent factor itself.
According to research, rhodomyrtone is an effective antibiotic against pneumococcus. Its molecular mechanism of action works by reducing or completely eliminating the pathogen’s capsule.