New Hope in the Fight against Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs

In 1928, Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, the very first antibiotic, and ushered in an era in which bacterial infections were no longer life-threatening illnesses.

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) estimates that at least 2 million people contract an antibiotic-resistant bacterial illness, known as a “superbug,” every year. More than 23,000 people a year die 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 synergistically against the bacteria. Researchers used the analogy of attacking a fortress: utilizing a variety of 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 looked at different combinations of four and five drugs from among 18,000 known antibiotics. 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, spoke enthusiastically about the results. “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 the Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers, 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. We maintain the highest professional and quality standards in our staff and our facilities. Our 25 years of excellent care have led to us being awarded a Best Nursing Homes award by US News & World Today, a 5-Star rating by USA Today, and an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, among many other awards.

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