We previously reported development of a prototype antibiotic sensitivity assay to detect drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis using infection by mycobacteriophage to create a novel nucleic acid transcript, a surrogate marker of mycobacterial viability, detected by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) (1). This assay detects antibiotic resistance to all drugs, even drugs for which the resistance mechanism is unknown or complex: it is a phenotypic readout using nucleic acid detection. In this report, we describe development and characteristics of an optimized reporter system that directed expression of the RNA cyclase ribozyme, which generated circular RNA through an intra-molecular splicing reaction and led to accumulation of a new nucleic acid sequence in phage-infected bacteria. These modifications simplified the assay, increased the limit of detection from 10(4) to <10(2) Mycobacterium tuberculosis cells, and correctly identified the susceptibility profile of Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains exposed for 16 hr to either first-line or second-line anti-tubercular drugs. In addition to phenotypic drug resistance or susceptibility, the assay reported streptomycin minimal inhibitory concentrations and clearly detected 10% drug-resistant cells in an otherwise drug-susceptible population.
A phospholipid-based nanoemulsion formulation of SQ641 (SQ641-NE) was active against intracellular Mycobacterium tuberculosis in J774A.1 mouse macrophages, although SQ641 by itself was not. Intravenous (i.v.) SQ641-NE was cleared from circulation and reached peak concentrations in lung and spleen in 1 h. In a murine tuberculosis (TB) model, 8 i.v. doses of SQ641-NE at 100 mg/kg of body weight over 4 weeks caused a 1.73 log10 CFU reduction of M. tuberculosis in spleen and were generally bacteriostatic in lungs.
The integrated US Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise (PHEMCE) has made great strides in strategic preparedness and response capabilities. There have been numerous advances in planning, biothreat countermeasure development, licensure, manufacturing, stockpiling and deployment. Increased biodefense surveillance capability has dramatically improved, while new tools and increased awareness have fostered rapid identification of new potential public health pathogens. Unfortunately, structural delays in vaccine design, development, manufacture, clinical testing and licensure processes remain significant obstacles to an effective national biodefense rapid response capability. This is particularly true for the very real threat of "novel pathogens" such as the avian-origin influenzas H7N9 and H5N1, and new coronaviruses such as hCoV-EMC. Conventional approaches to vaccine development, production, clinical testing and licensure are incompatible with the prompt deployment needed for an effective public health response. An alternative approach, proposed here, is to apply computational vaccine design tools and rapid production technologies that now make it possible to engineer vaccines for novel emerging pathogen and WMD biowarfare agent countermeasures in record time. These new tools have the potential to significantly reduce the time needed to design string-of-epitope vaccines for previously unknown pathogens. The design process-from genome to gene sequence, ready to insert in a DNA plasmid-can now be accomplished in less than 24 h. While these vaccines are by no means "standard," the need for innovation in the vaccine design and production process is great. Should such vaccines be developed, their 60-d start-to-finish timeline would represent a 2-fold faster response than the current standard.
The most evident challenge to treatment of Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium responsible for gastritis, peptic ulcers and gastric cancer, is the increasing rate of resistance to all currently used therapeutic antibiotics. Thus, the development of novel therapies is urgently required. N-geranyl-N-(2-adamantyl) ethane-1, 2-diamine (SQ109) is an ethylene diamine-based antitubercular drug that is currently in clinical trials for the treatment of tuberculosis (TB). Previous pharmacokinetic studies of SQ109 revealed that persistently high concentrations of SQ109 remain in the stomach 4 hours post oral administration in rats. This finding, combined with the need for new anti-Helicobacter therapies, prompted us to define the in vitro efficacy of SQ109 against H. pylori. Liquid broth micro-dilution was used for susceptibility studies to determine the antimicrobial activity of SQ109 against a total of 6 laboratory strains and 20 clinical isolates of H. pylori; the clinical isolates included a multi-drug resistant strain. All strains tested were susceptible to SQ109 with MIC and MBC ranges of 6-10 µM and 50-60 µM, respectively. SQ109 killing kinetics were concentration- and time-dependent. SQ109 killed H. pylori in 8-10 h at 140 µM (2MBCs) or 4-6 h at 200 µM (~3MBCs). Importantly, though the kinetics of killing were altered, SQ109 retained potent bactericidal activity against H. pylori at low pH. Additionally, SQ109 demonstrated robust thermal stability and was effective at killing slow growing or static bacteria. In fact, pretreatment of cultures with a bacteriostatic concentration of chloramphenicol (Cm) synergized the effects of typically bacteriostatic concentrations of SQ109 to the level of five-logs of bacterial killing. A molar-to-molar comparison of the efficacy of SQ109 as compared to metronidazole (MTZ), amoxicillin (AMX), rifampicin (RIF) and clarithromycin (CLR), revealed that SQ109 was superior to MTZ, AMX and RIF but not to CLR. Finally, the frequency of resistance to SQ109 was low and electron microscopy studies revealed that SQ109 interacted with bacterial inner membrane and cytoplasmic content(s). Collectively, our in vitro data demonstrate that SQ109 is an effective monotherapy against susceptible and multi-drug resistant strains of H. pylori and may be useful alone or in combination with other antibiotics for development as a new class of anti-Helicobacter drugs.
We recently reported that compounds created around a dipiperidine scaffold demonstrated activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) (Bogatcheva, E.; Hanrahan, C.; Chen, P.; Gearhart, J.; Sacksteder, K.; Einck, L.; Nacy, C.; Protopopova, M. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett.2010, 20, 201). To optimize the dipiperidine compound series and to select a lead compound to advance into preclinical studies, we evaluated the structure-activity relationship (SAR) of our proprietary libraries. The (piperidin-4-ylmethyl)piperidine scaffold was an essential structural element required for antibacterial activity. Based on SAR, we synthesized a focused library of 313 new dipiperidines to delineate additional structural features responsible for antitubercular activity. Thirty new active compounds with MIC 10-20 ?g/ml on Mtb were identified, but none was better than the original hits of this series, SQ609, SQ614, and SQ615. In Mtb-infected macrophages in vitro, SQ609 and SQ614 inhibited more than 90% of intracellular bacterial growth at 4 ?g/ml; SQ615 was toxic to these cells. In mice infected with Mtb, weight loss was completely prevented by SQ609, but not SQ614, and SQ609 had a prolonged therapeutic effect, extended by 10-15 days, after cessation of therapy. Based on in vitro and in vivo antitubercular activity, SQ609 was identified as the best-in-class dipiperidine compound in the series.
The in vitro interactions of two new antitubercular drugs, SQ109 and TMC207, with each other and with rifampin (RIF) were evaluated. The combination of SQ109 with TMC207 (i) improved an already excellent TMC207 MIC for M. tuberculosis H37Rv by 4- to 8-fold, (ii) improved the rate of killing of bacteria over the rate of killing by each single drug, and (iii) enhanced the drug postantibiotic effect by 4 h. In no instance did we observe antagonistic activities with the combination of SQ109 and TMC207. Rifampin activates cytochrome P450 genes to reduce the area under the curve (AUC) for TMC207 in humans. The presence of RIF in three-drug combinations did not affect the synergistic activities of SQ109 and TMC207, and SQ109 also dramatically decreased the MIC of RIF. SQ109 was active by itself, and both its activity was improved by and it improved the in vitro activities of both RIF and TMC207.
Standard anti-tuberculosis (TB) drug therapy had distinct effects on the bacilli burden in mice of DBA/2, C3H, SWR/J, and C57BL/6 inbred strains. To standardize the TB infection process, susceptible DBA/2 mice were infected with 1/10 of the dose used for relatively resistant C57BL/6 mice, such that the lung CFUs were roughly identical 3 weeks after infection when therapy was initiated. We found that TB treatment was more effective in the susceptible DBA/2 mice than in the relatively resistant C57BL/6 mice.
As part of our ongoing research effort to develop new therapeutics for treatment of tuberculosis (TB), we synthesized a combinatorial library of 10,358 compounds on solid support using a pool-and-split technique and tested the resulting compounds for activity against Mycobacteriumtuberculosis. Structure-activity relationship (SAR) evaluation identified new compounds with antitubercular activity, including a novel hit series that is structurally unrelated to any existing antitubercular drugs, dipiperidines. Dipiperidine representatives exhibited MIC values as low as 7.8microM, the ability to induce promoter Rv0341 activated in response to cell wall biosynthesis inhibition, relatively low nonspecific cellular toxicity in the range of 30-162microM, and logP values less than 4.
New delivery vehicles and routes of delivery were developed for the capuramycin analogue SQ641. While this compound has remarkable in vitro potency against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, it has low solubility in water and poor intracellular activity. We demonstrate here that SQ641 dissolved in the water-soluble vitamin E analogue alpha-tocopheryl polyethylene glycol 1000 succinate (TPGS) or incorporated into TPGS-micelles has significant activity in a mouse model of tuberculosis.
We designed, constructed, and evaluated a prototype novel reporter system comprised of two functional cassettes: (i) the SP6 RNA polymerase gene under transcriptional control of a promoter active in mycobacteria and (ii) the consensus SP6 polymerase promoter that directs expression of an otherwise unexpressed sequence. We incorporated the reporter system into a mycobacteriophage for delivery into viable Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and introduction led to synthesis of an SP6 polymerase-dependent surrogate marker RNA that we detected by reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR). The reporter confirmed the susceptibility profile of both drug-susceptible and drug-resistant M. tuberculosis strains exposed to first-line antitubercular drugs and required as little as 16 h of exposure to antibacterial agents targeting bacterial metabolic processes to accurately read the reaction. The reporter system translated the bacterial phenotype into a language interpretable by rapid and sensitive nucleic acid detection. As a phenotypic assay that works only on viable M. tuberculosis, it could be used to rapidly assess resistance to any drug, including drugs for which the mechanism of resistance is unknown or which result from many potential known (and unknown) genetic alterations.
To investigate in vitro interaction between two compounds, SQ109 and PNU-100480, currently in development for the treatment of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB).
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