Chemical Additive to Antibiotics Could Make Them Newly Effective Against Resistant Bacteria

Many antibiotics in our arsenal are becoming practically useless, as bacteria breed resistance to them. But researchers at Texas Tech University and Baylor University have developed a chemical additive that could make old drugs useful again.

Written by: Jessica Behnham

Antibiotic resistance is a huge problem, not to mention an economic drain, for doctors and pharmaceutical makers trying to fight bacterial infections. Many antibiotics in our arsenal are becoming practically useless, as bacteria breed resistance to them. But researchers at Texas Tech University and Baylor University have developed a chemical additive that could make old drugs useful again.

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is a byproduct of natural selection. Antibiotics like penicillins and cephalosporins are generally effective in destroying many common bacteria. But some bacteria have developed an ability to produce an enzyme, known as metallo-beta-lactamase, that renders those common antibiotics ineffective. With overuse and misuse of antibiotics over the past half-decade, the non-metallo-beta-lactamase bacteria have been killed off and the resistant bacteria have been left to reproduce, making them the dominant strain over time.

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