Nav: Home

Research may help rescue antibiotics' effectiveness in the face of drug-resistant bacteria

August 10, 2018

BIDMC Research Briefs showcase groundbreaking scientific advances that are transforming medical care.

Bacteria--especially Gram-negative strains--are becoming increasingly resistant to current antibiotic drugs, and the development of new classes of antibiotics has slowed. Faced with these challenges, investigators are studying the potential of combination therapy, in which two or more drugs are used together to increase or restore the efficacy of both drugs against a resistant bacterial pathogen. Now new research indicates that such synergy may work even when bacteria become resistant to colistin, which is considered a treatment agent of last resort.

The findings are especially promising because recent evidence indicates the potential for rapid worldwide spread of colistin resistance. "For an infected patient, if the multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacterial pathogen is resistant to colistin, then there is a big problem," said senior author James Kirby, MD, Director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory at BIDMC.

In their Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy study, Kirby and his colleagues Thea Brennan-Krohn, MD and Alejandro Pironti, PhD screened 19 different antibiotics for synergy with colistin. The team discovered several combinations where synergy was present and infections with resistant pathogens could potentially be treated with the combination therapy.

Of particular interest, colistin demonstrated high rates of synergy with linezolid, fusidic acid, and clindamycin, which are protein synthesis inhibitor antibiotics that individually have no activity against Gram-negative bacteria. "It was remarkable to see two drugs, each of which is inactive on its own against these bacteria, inhibiting them in combination," notes Brennan-Krohn. "These findings suggest that colistin retains sub-lethal activity against colistin-resistant bacteria, which may enable drugs like linezolid to reach their targets."

"Faced with highly resistant pathogens, clinicians often currently treat with multiple antibiotics without knowing the benefit the combinations may provide," said Kirby. "This study now provides some scientific underpinning for these choices and direction for future investigation." He added that combination therapy may also allow clinicians to use lower effective doses of colistin and other drugs, which would help avoid toxicities associated with the medications as well as slow the development of antibiotic resistance.
-end-
This work was funded in part with Federal funds from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Related Bacteria Articles:

Conducting shell for bacteria
Under anaerobic conditions, certain bacteria can produce electricity. This behavior can be exploited in microbial fuel cells, with a special focus on wastewater treatment schemes.
Controlling bacteria's necessary evil
Until now, scientists have only had a murky understanding of how these relationships arise.
Bacteria take a deadly risk to survive
Bacteria need mutations -- changes in their DNA code -- to survive under difficult circumstances.
How bacteria hunt other bacteria
A bacterial species that hunts other bacteria has attracted interest as a potential antibiotic, but exactly how this predator tracks down its prey has not been clear.
Chlamydia: How bacteria take over control
To survive in human cells, chlamydiae have a lot of tricks in store.
Stress may protect -- at least in bacteria
Antibiotics harm bacteria and stress them. Trimethoprim, an antibiotic, inhibits the growth of the bacterium Escherichia coli and induces a stress response.
'Pulling' bacteria out of blood
Magnets instead of antibiotics could provide a possible new treatment method for blood infection.
New findings detail how beneficial bacteria in the nose suppress pathogenic bacteria
Staphylococcus aureus is a common colonizer of the human body.
Understanding your bacteria
New insight into bacterial cell division could lead to advancements in the fight against harmful bacteria.
Bacteria are individualists
Cells respond differently to lack of nutrients.

Related Bacteria Reading:

Bacteria: Staph, Strep, Clostridium, and Other Bacteria (Class of Their Own (Paperback))
by Judy Wearing (Author)

A Field Guide to Bacteria (Comstock Book)
by Betsey Dexter Dyer (Author)

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
by Ed Yong (Author)

Basic Medical Microbiology
by Patrick R. Murray PhD (Author)

The Bacteria Book: The Big World of Really Tiny Microbes
by Steve Mould (Author)

Bacteria: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by Sebastian G.B. Amyes (Author)

The Surprising World of Bacteria with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
by Agnieszka Biskup (Author), Anne Timmons (Author), Matt Webb (Author), Krista Ward (Author)

Molecular Genetics of Bacteria, 4th Edition
by Larry Snyder (Author), Joseph E. Peters (Author), Tina M. Henkin (Author), Wendy Champness (Author)

Are All Bacteria Dangerous? Biology Book for Kids | Children's Biology Books
by Baby Professor (Author)

Bacteria: The Benign, the Bad, and the Beautiful
by Trudy M. Wassenaar (Author)

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

The Story Behind The Numbers
Is life today better than ever before? Does the data bear that out? This hour, TED speakers explore the stories we tell with numbers — and whether those stories portray the full picture. Guests include psychologist Steven Pinker, economists Tyler Cowen and Michael Green, journalist Hanna Rosin, and environmental activist Paul Gilding.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#487 Knitting in PEARL
This week we're discussing math and things made from yarn. We welcome mathematician Daina Taimina to the show to discuss her book "Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes: Tactile Mathematics, Art and Craft for all to Explore", and how making geometric models that people can play with helps teach math. And we speak with research scientist Janelle Shane about her hobby of training neural networks to do things like name colours, come up with Halloween costume ideas, and generate knitting patterns: often with hilarious results. Related links: Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane by Daina Taimina and David Henderson Daina's Hyperbolic Crochet blog...