Drug combinations to combat antibiotic resistance

A medical illustration of drug–resistant, Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. Original image sourced from US Government department: Public Health Image Library, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Under US law this image is copyright free, please credit the government department whenever you can”.
A medical illustration of drug–resistant, Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. Original image sourced from US Government department: Public Health Image Library, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Under US law this image is copyright free, please credit the government department whenever you can”. by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

One of the biggest health threats in our current society is not related to a virus, not even to diabetes or cardiovascular disease, but to antimicrobial resistance. In fact, over 5 million deaths per year are associated with resistant bacteria, of which nearly 1.3 million deaths per year are directly attributable to antimicrobial resistance. This requires the development of new approaches to combat antibiotic resistance.

A recent study published in Nature Microbiology shows the results from a systematic analysis of the effects of over 10,000 drug combinations against common multidrug-resistant bacteria. Although using drug combinations is not rare in clinical practice, so far no one had performed such a wide screening of combinations of different classes of antibiotics, or combinations of antibiotics and non-antibiotic drugs.

Testing the direct effects of drug combinations on bacteria is important, because due to their different cellular targets, their effects could either complement (synergising) or antagonise each other.

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