Treatment With Enzyme Inhibitor Can Help Combat Antimicrobial Resistance

June 17, 2023

Houston, Texas—Early-stage studies conducted by researchers at Merck in collaboration with investigators at Ghent University Hospital, Belgium showed that MK-3402, an investigational metallo-beta-lactamase inhibitor, was well tolerated following administration to healthy individuals. Further clinical trials are needed to evaluate the potential of intravenous MK-3402 for use in combination with other agents for the treatment of antibiotic resistant bacterial infections. The findings will be presented at ASM Microbe 2023, the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

Antimicrobial resistance is a major threat to public health. Some bacteria are resistant to treatment because they produce the enzyme metallo-beta-lactamase, which makes a certain class of antibacterial drugs called beta-lactams ineffective. MK-3402 is designed to block metallo-beta-lactamase enzymes, so that if it is administered as treatment with an antibacterial drug (and another type of blocking drug against other types of beta-lactamase enzymes made by bacteria), the antibacterial drug will still be able to work against bacteria that are otherwise resistant.

Two studies were done with MK-3402 and a placebo, with different dosages and number of doses given between the studies. Neither the participants nor the study staff knew which participants were receiving the study drug or placebo. Safety was monitored by checking results of blood tests, electrocardiograms, blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, breathing rate and participant-reported side effects.

The blood levels of MK-3402 measured in these studies will help to define a dosing regimen that should provide adequate MK-3402 blood levels to block bacterial metallo-beta-lactamase. However, larger studies are required to evaluate the safety and efficacy of MK-3402 in combination with other antibacterial agents.

The studies were funded, designed and sponsored by Merck, and took place at Drug Research Unit Ghent, a clinical trial site in Belgium.


ASM Microbe is the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, held June 15-19, 2023, in Houston, Texas.

The American Society for Microbiology is one of the largest professional societies dedicated to the life sciences and is composed of 30,000 scientists and health practitioners. ASM's mission is to promote and advance the microbial sciences. 
ASM advances the microbial sciences through conferences, publications, certifications, educational opportunities and advocacy efforts. It enhances laboratory capacity around the globe through training and resources. It provides a network for scientists in academia, industry and clinical settings. Additionally, ASM promotes a deeper understanding of the microbial sciences to diverse audiences.

Author: ASM Communications

ASM Communications
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