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New step in fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Published on 08/02/17 at 10:38am

There is an increasing number of stories circulating regarding the threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, only last week four kilometres of Chinese coastline was found to host such bacteria. The fight against the emergence of this threat is beginning to gain momentum and the latest news is a logical step in that process: using the tools already around to fight bacteria.

The method chosen by University of California, Los Angeles biologists was to try a variety of antibiotics in combination with one another. The team had previously identified, last year, that three antibiotics used in conjunction can overcome bacteria when individually they are unable to.

The study tested combinations with a group of six antibiotics, testing 20 different combinations of the antibiotics to determine which were the most, and least, effective. Of these 20, two were found to be particularly effective.

“So many bacteria are now so resistant to antibiotics,” commented Pamela Yeh, the study’s senior author and a UCLA assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. “We have a logical, methodical way to identify three-drug combinations to pursue. We think it’s vital to have this framework for identifying the best possible combinations of antibiotics.”

In extension to creating new combination treatments with three antibiotics, the researchers also managed to develop a mathematical model to help biologists in their analyse of how three or more factors may interact with one another and how to understand unexpected interactions. This could potentially by useful in completely different areas of research – with the study providing the example of the interplay of the varying factors affecting climate.

The next step for the study is to examine how the antibiotics work within living organisms, beginning in a study of mice.

Ben Hargreaves

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