Britons suffering agonising and recurring bladder infections could soon be treated with a new form of antibiotic that has never been used anywhere else in the world.
Experts have hailed gepotidacin as a huge step forward in the fight against antibiotic resistance, because the bugs have not had a chance to become resistant to its attacks. They believe this means it will be able to fight off aggressive urinary tract infections (UTIs) that don’t respond to current antibiotics.
Up to 1.7 million Britons – the majority of whom are women – suffer from chronic UTIs, classed as three or more infections a year.
Symptoms include a burning pain when going to the toilet, going more often than usual and feeling like you need to go when the bladder is empty. In older patients, the infection can cause a dementia-like condition called delirium. There is also a risk of sepsis, which accounts for about 50,000 deaths a year.
Up to 1.7 million Britons – the majority of whom are women – suffer from chronic UTIs, classed as three or more infections a year
Symptoms include a burning pain when going to the toilet, going more often than usual and feeling like you need to go when the bladder is empty. In older patients, the infection can cause a dementia-like condition called delirium
Gepotidacin is also expected to be used to treat a number of other diseases including the sexually transmitted infection gonorrhoea, which is one of the most drug-resistant bacterial diseases in the world. GSK, the pharmaceutical firm behind gepotidacin, plans to apply for US approval by spring, and experts say it will likely be given the NHS green light within the next two years.
If approved, it will be the first new class of antibiotics created in nearly four decades.
Professor Jennifer Rohn, a UTI expert at University College London, says: ‘The infections are one of the most common reasons NHS doctors give out prescriptions. This is fuelling the spread of these aggressive, hard-to-kill bugs.’
Gepotidacin, which has been in development for more than a decade, is designed to break down microscopic sections of the bacteria’s DNA. Researchers say this new technology means the treatment could continue to be effective for over half a century.
‘This is an important new drug because it’s targeting bits in the bacteria that other drugs haven’t targeted,’ says Professor Neil Osheroff, a biochemist at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee who helped GSK develop gepotidacin.
‘The antibiotics we use to treat UTIs today have been around for as long as 50 years. We think this one could last even longer.’