Novel therapies to combat deadly superbugs caused by antibiotic overuse

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The overuse and misuse of antibiotics are key factors behind the evolution of so-called superbugs, multiresistant bacteria that are growing harder and harder to kill. The phenomenon has led some to declare an end to the antibiotics era, as most of the mainstream drugs in use today date back to the 1960s. But novel therapies are beginning to emerge that may help establish a new front line in the war against superbugs.

[R]esearchers are looking at how modulating, or changing, the gut microbiome could help give new life to some antibiotics. For instance, scientists at MIT released the results of a study this month showing that a combination of antibiotic drugs and probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria, could eradicate two strains of drug-resistant microbes that often infect wounds.

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While progress is being made against superbugs, there is still much we don’t understand about their defenses and evolutionary pathways. For instance, researchers know that bacteriophages—viruses that infect bacteria—can transfer DNA from one microbe to another. This process, known as genetic transduction, is believed to be one of the major ways in which bacteria acquire antibiotic resistance.

Experts like [professor Kevin] Outterson, while cautiously optimistic about our ability to develop new therapies, caution that other ways to slow the spread of superbugs is simply through more judicious use of current drugs.

Read full, original post: Science vs. Superbugs: A New Wave of Solutions Is On the Way

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