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‘Game-changer’ antibiotic could save lives

March 29, 2022

A ‘game-changer’ antibiotic could save millions of lives worldwide from drug-resistant superbugs.

A new antibiotic could save millions of lives worldwide from drug-resistant superbugs, a new study suggests. The breakthrough, made by UK scientists, involved the development of new versions of the molecule teixobactin, which is thought to be capable of killing so-called ‘superbugs’ without damaging the tissue of the mammals it was tested on.

The breakthrough, made by UK scientists, involved the development of new versions of the molecule teixobactin, which is thought to be capable of killing so-called ‘superbugs’ without damaging the tissue of the mammals it was tested on.

A team of researchers was able to use it to successfully eradicate methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which is resistant to several widely used antibiotics.

The study, which was carried out on mice, follows repeated warnings from global health officials about the rise of drug-resistant bacteria and other microbes due to the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, which encourages microorganisms to evolve into ‘superbugs.’

In 2019, more than 1.2 million people died from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, according to a January 2021 study in The Lancet.

Teixobactin was first hailed as a “game-changing” antibiotic in 2015, but this new project has developed a synthetic version of the drug that can be kept at room temperature, making global distribution of the drug easier.

It is hoped that, in the future, patients could be treated with just a single daily dose of teixobactin for systemic life-threatening resistant bacterial infections.

It is also hoped that, by swapping certain amino acids on the molecule for cheaper alternatives, the new drug could be produced inexpensively on a large scale.

The new research comes as the threat of ‘superbugs’ remains high.

A review commissioned by the UK government has predicted that by 2050 an extra 10 million people will succumb to drug-resistant infections each year.

COVID is also thought to be speeding up the global threat of antimicrobial resistance, meaning the development of new antibiotics that can be used as a last resort when other drugs fail is crucial, scientists said.

Related: Covid impact ‘minimal’ in vital medication development

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