Since humans started making antibiotics for ourselves in the 1940s, bacteria have evolved to counteract our efforts. They are now winning. There are strains of old foes that withstand everything we can throw at them. Meanwhile, our arsenal has dried up. Before 1962, scientists developed more than 20 new classes of antibiotics. Since then, they have made two.
More, hopefully, are coming. A team of scientists led by Kim Lewis from Northeastern University have identified a new antibiotic called teixobactin, which kills some kinds of bacteria by preventing them from building their outer coats. They used it to successfully treat antibiotic-resistant infections in mice. And more importantly, when they tried to deliberately evolve strains of bacteria that resist the drug, they failed. Teixobactin appears resistant to resistance.
I’ve emphasised the word ‘appears’ because no one can dare claim that it is 100% resistant to resistance.
This drug does sound promising. More interesting though is the fact that these scientists have found a way to find more potential antibiotics in the future.
I’ve got a love / hate relationship with antibiotics because whilst they do cure people, their over-use has resulted in the situation we have now of ‘resistant superbugs’ that cannot be treated. Having more reliable antibiotics is good but they’ll inevitably get misused which is bad.