Antibiotic resistance is a big threat to global health, and a growing number of infections are now becoming harder to treat. Now, a team of researchers may have found a potent weapon against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can help treat persistent infections.
The researchers at the University of North Carolina Health Care developed a new way to make antibiotics more potent and able to kill disease-causing pathogens. Published in the journal Cell Chemical Biology, the study showed how the scientists formulated a way to make bacteria more vulnerable to some common antibiotics.
In the study, the researchers discovered that incorporating molecules dubbed as rhamnolipids can make certain antibiotics a hundred times more powerful against Staphylococcus aureus, which causes many infections that become persistent despite treatment.
The rhamnolipids successfully loosen up the outer membranes of the bacteria, making aminoglycoside molecules to enter easily and faster.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria cases on the rise
Antibiotics are medicines used to prevent and treat bacterial infections. When the bacteria change in response to these drugs, they become antibiotic-resistant. They become very difficult to treat, and the number of cases is growing by the minute.
In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that at least 2 million people get an antibiotic-resistant infection each year in the United States. Of these, 23,000 people die.
One of the deadliest superbugs today is the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which is a resistant type of bacteria that commonly affects patients in health care settings wherein they acquire potentially life-threatening infections. In some cases, the patients get the infection in the community.
In the United States alone, about 80,461 people get infected with MRSA each year, and it kills about 11,285 people every year.