A new study led by Illinois chemistry professor Eric Oldfield has found new uses for medications brought to market to treat cancer, fertility issues and particular types of infections.
One of the study's goals is to find drugs that work against target bacteria in multiple ways.
“Bugs are clever: They can adapt and find ways around the things we develop to kill them," Oldfield said. "So if we attack them at multiple targets, it's harder for them to make one little change to get around it."
The priority in this study is adaptability: new uses for existing drugs that will effectively kill drug-resistant bacteria.
The mechanism for destruction of drug-resistant bacteria is complex, but one facet under investigation is called uncoupling, a way to starve bacteria by depleting its energy.
"What we found is that a lot of FDA-approved molecules that are in use actually do kill bacteria and also act as uncouplers," Oldfield said. "We were kind of surprised to find that."
Not only is adaptability of existing drugs increasingly important, but so is advancing research and discovery.
This work is also advanced by the National Institutes of Health, and work continues to discover FDA-approved drugs whose structure permits new uses. These processes allow existing approved drugs to be made available for wider uses and to do so more quickly, which will advance treatment and save lives.