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A new antibiotic could finally turn the tide against superbugs and drug-resistant infections

And it could be just start of the discovery of dozens of new antibiotics.

Image: petri dish via Shutterstock

HOPES HAVE BEEN sparked that superbugs could be a thing of the past in the near future after the first major breakthrough for decades in antibiotics.

A new approach to developing the drugs has led to the discovery of the first new antibiotic in thirty years – teixobactin.

It had the ability to wipe out drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis and Staphylococcus in lab dish trials, and also the superbug MRSA in infected mice.

It’s also unlikely to mutate as easily.

The discovery is hoped to turn the tide on the growing numbers of drug-resistant infections, as scientists fear the deviating effects on modern civilisation if common infections become untreatable due to mutations.

Decades-long misuse of licensed drugs gave rise to the resistant strains, and big pharma spending on antibiotics discovery has failed to keep apace.

More discoveries

“It is likely that additional natural compounds with similarly low susceptibility to resistance are present in nature and waiting to be discovered,” the paper published today in the journal Nature read.

It is part of series of advances in the production of new antibiotics.

The issue with most antibiotics – 99% in fact – is that they can not be grown in lab, and only in soil. Researchers from the Northeastern University in Boston have developed a new way of cultivating these elusive antibiotics.

They used a device known as an iChip, a palette with tiny wells each seeded from a single, different bacterial cell,  which is placed back in the soil for a week or two to reproduce in their natural environment.

If all goes well, the new medicine “will be in clinical trials two years from now”, researchers said.

Additional reporting - © AFP, 2015 

Read: Overuse of antibiotics is giving killer bugs free reign — WHO >

Poll: Would you take antibiotics that weren’t prescribed for you? >

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Nicky Ryan

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