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Antibiotic combinations could help in fight against antimicrobial resistance

Published on 04/09/18 at 09:37am
Image Credit: b r e n t

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) could be tackled by giving people a combination of antibiotic drugs that are no longer effective on their own, a new study from researchers at the University of California suggests.

The University of California researchers discovered approximately 8000 different combinations of antibiotic drugs, that when combined are effective in fighting bacteria even if those bacteria are able to resist each specific drug individually. The scientists outlined their findings in the journal Systems Biology and Applications.

Van Savage, a UCLA Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and of Biomathematics, who led the study, commented: “I was blown away by how many effective combinations there are as we increased the number of drugs. People may think they know how drug combinations will interact, but they really don't.”

The researchers tested the way in which every four and five drug combination of eight different antibiotics interacted with e-coli at varying dosages. The combinations were effective due to their differing mechanisms of action.

“A whole can be much more, or much less, than the sum of its parts, as we often see with a baseball or basketball team,” said Dr Pamela Yeh, one of the study's senior authors and a UCLA assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. “There is a tradition of using just one drug, maybe two. We're offering an alternative that looks very promising. We shouldn't limit ourselves to just single drugs or two-drug combinations in our medical toolbox. We expect several of these combinations, or more, will work much better than existing antibiotics.”

Louis Goss

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