A popular antibiotic called rifampicin, used to treat tuberculosis, leprosy, and Legionnaire’s disease, is becoming less effective as the bacteria that cause the diseases develop more resistance.
“Antibiotic resistance is one of the major problems in modern medicine,” said Adbelwahab. “Our studies have shown how this enzyme deactivates rifampicin. We now have a blueprint to inhibit this enzyme and prevent antibiotic resistance.”
Rifampicin, also known as Rifampin, has been used to treat bacterial infections for more than 40 years. It works by preventing the bacteria from making RNA, a step necessary for growth.
The enzyme, Rifampicin monooxygenase, is a flavoenzyme—a family of enzymes that catalyze chemical reactions that are essential for microbial survival. These latest findings represent the first detailed biochemical characterization of a flavoenzyme involved in antibiotic resistance, according to the authors.