Second lease of life for antibiotics

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Common antibiotics could be “resuscitated” to make them more effective against resistant bugs, say researchers.

The technique involves combining the drugs with additional compounds to improve their ability to combat infection.

Scientists from University College Dublin studied a range of hospital-sampled bacteria that were resistant to the common antibiotic ciprofloxacin.

Tests showed that five “adjuvant” compounds increased the power of ciprofloxacin to defeat the bugs up to six-fold.

Lead researcher Dr Marta Martins said: “Antimicrobial resistance is a growing problem that is threatening to make many infections impossible to treat. There are very few new antibacterial drugs coming on to the market so it is vital that we find ways to extend the use of existing antibiotics as much as possible.

“Adjuvant therapy essentially means that antibiotics that are currently ineffective can be ‘resuscitated’ to treat infections that previously would have been considered resistant.

“Hopefully this work will allow antibiotics to be incorporated into treatment regimes. This approach could ultimately reduce levels of antimicrobial resistance in hospitals as well as in the community.”