In 1928, Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, the very first antibiotic, and ushered in an era in which a simple ear infection was no longer a life-threatening illness.
In the ninety years since then, antibiotics have saved countless lives — and have now led to the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. So serious is antibiotic resistance that the World Health Organization (WHO) has called it “one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.” In the US alone, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has estimated that at least 2 million people contract an antibiotic-resistant “superbug” every year, with more than 23,000 people dying from that infection.
However, there is good news.
Research published in Nature Public Journals: Systems Biology and Applications tested combinations of different antibiotics against the deadly bacteria e. coli.
While it was previously assumed that different antibiotics would “cancel each other out,” the study found that combining four or five different antibiotics worked in a synergistic fashion against the bacteria. Researchers used the analogy of attacking a fortress: Using different methods of attack was more effective than using just one method.
Previously, only one or two drugs were used to combat bacteria, but the study tested more than 18,000 combinations of four and five drugs. The result: 8000 different combinations were found to be effective against the bacteria.
Michael Kurilla, the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Division of Clinical Innovation, enthused that, “With the specter of antibiotic resistance threatening to turn back healthcare to the pre-antibiotic era, the ability to more judiciously use combinations of existing antibiotics that are singly losing potency is welcome. This work will accelerate the testing in humans of promising antibiotic combinations for bacterial infections that we are ill-equipped to deal with today.”
At Tower Lodge Care Center, in Wall, NJ, we follow medical news closely. Because older people often have a weakened immune system, whether due to their age or to any of a variety of medical conditions, we use best practices to keep our residents healthy and happy.
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