Ineffective Antibiotics Form Strong Teams Against Deadly Super Bacteria

In the fight against super bacteria, University at Buffalo scientists are relying on strength in numbers to win the battle against drug resistance.

A team of researchers found that combinations of three antibiotics – that are each ineffective against superbugs when used alone – are capable of eradicating two of the six ESKAPE pathogens when delivered together.

ESKAPE pathogens are a group of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria that pose a grave threat, causing more than 2 million infections and nearly 23,000 deaths a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The six super bacteria are also responsible for a substantial number of infections in hospitals.

The new, triple combination treatments provide a new weapon in the evolutionary arms race between modern medicine and .

“These bacteria are extremely problematic and have become resistant to nearly all available antibiotics. We needed to think differently to attack this problem,” says Brian Tsuji, PharmD, an author on two recent studies and associate professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice in the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

One study, “Polymyxin-resistant, carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii is eradicated by a triple combination of agents that lack individual activity,” was published in the May issue of the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, while another study, “Polymyxin B-Based Triple Combinations Wage War Against KPC-2-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae: New Dosing Strategies for Old Allies,” was published in the April issue of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

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