Skip to content

Researchers have developed a method that could revolutionize hip and knee replacements. The researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital out of Boston created a new antibiotic-infused cement for bones to combat infections. The new “highly effective” medicine promises to get to the core of bacterial bone infections and has proven to be a powerful force against antibiotic-resistant strains.

The medicinal cement targets the infection site precisely and delivers the antibiotic to the bone tissue through the bone cement. Common antibiotics don’t even come close to targeting anything precisely, which means massive doses are necessary, creating drug resistance and destroying beneficial bacteria.

Antibiotic resistance has become an enormous global problem. So preventing resistance is of the utmost importance. Especially with the world’s aging population, more and more people are having knee and hip replacements, resulting in bacterial infections such as Staphylococcal. And the only current treatment is regular antibiotics.

The team selected a shortlist of molecules to design the antibiotics and maximize drug resistance. They settled on the dual-action antibiotic VCD-077, which maintains the stability of the bone cement while being highly effective against drug-resistant bacteria strands, slowing the development of future resistance.

The new antibiotic surpassed all the antibiotic-loaded bone cements used against Staphylococcal in a rat model.

Hae Lin Jang, Ph.D., co-director of the Brigham’s Center for Engineered Therapeutics and principal investigator of the Laboratory for Developing Advanced Biomaterials and Biotechnologies, said in a university release, “Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved of bone cements loaded with antibiotics not originally developed for bone tissue… In addition to not being bone tissue-specific, resistance has emerged against these antibiotics. We must create a new generation of antibiotics that are optimized to meet this emerging need.”

But, before it’s found in clinics, the team has to confront two significant limitations: rat models versus humans and the necessary toxicity studies. Still, they think the future looks promising for tissue-specific localized treatment, such as bone infections that minimize invasiveness.

By focusing on tissue-specific antibiotics from the start, the team is on the right track to creating a medicine that tackles bacterial infection precisely without producing drug resistance.

“The future lies in mixing artificial intelligence and drug discovery to make developing new antibiotics more efficient and cost-effective than ever before,” says co-corresponding author Shiladitya Sengupta, Ph.D., co-director of the Brigham’s Center for Engineered Therapeutics. “Interdisciplinarity in our approach and specificity in our drug development will truly bring about a new medical engineering paradigm.”

“Treatment may be getting more complicated, and bacteria may be getting more sophisticated, but us biomedical engineers are getting more sophisticated, too.”

You can read their findings in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.


Posted in