Anti-inflammatory drugs show promise against bacteria

Researchers from the University of Wollongong in Australia recently discovered that commonly used anti-inflammatory drugs have the ability to kill bacteria in a unique way that may provide the basis for new drug treatments.

The study was led by Dr. Aaron Oakley of the University of Wollongong and published in the March 13 issue of the Chemistry & Biology journal. The researchers took three non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, bromofenac, carprofen and vedaprofen, and observed how they interacted with bacteria.

"We discovered that some anti-inflammatory drugs used in human and veterinary medicine have weak antibiotic activity and that they exert this secondary activity by preventing bacteria from copying their DNA, which they need to do in order to multiply," Oakley said.

The team discovered that NSAIDs attack bacteria by binding to and preventing the DNA clamp protein from functioning. The DNA clamp protein composes part of an enzyme found in bacteria which synthesizes DNA molecules from the nucleotide structure.

"The fact that the bacteria-killing effect of the anti-inflammatory drugs is different from conventional drugs means that the NSAIDS could be developed into new kinds of antibiotics that are effective against so-called superbugs," Oakley said. "This is important because the superbugs have become resistant to many -- and in some cases most -- of the available antibiotics."

The research team is hopeful that NSAIDs can provide an alternative treatment option to fight drug-resistant bacteria and superbugs.