The widespread use of antibiotics is well recognised. From treating human and animal infections to increasing farming yields, antibiotics have become crucial to health and lifestyle. In recent years, however, the impact of such extensive use has been called into question. Widespread reports have highlighted increasing international concern over bacteria becoming resistant to previously effective treatments. The drug-resistance of treatable diseases is regarded as a key threat to global health.
There is evidence that genetic mutations in bacteria have led to resistance to a range of treatments, including collastin, an antibiotic of last resort. UK news has also highlighted the pressure GPs face when they refuse patient demands for antibiotics they judge to be unnecessary in their efforts to mitigate the risk of antibiotic resistance.
The search for new treatments for bacterial infections has therefore been a key aim of research across the globe. New findings published in Nature Microbiology report the discovery in the US of naturally occurring compounds found in soil samples. Among these are substances known as malacidins.
Scientists have found malacidins to be highly effective in combating a number of bacteria that have become resistant to current antibiotics, including MRSA. MRSA is the so-called hospital ‘superbug’ that has become prevalent and led to complications for thousands of patients undergoing routine hospital procedures. It is one of a group of related bacteria known as ‘gram negative’ that are notoriously difficult to treat. They include pneumonia, urinary tract and some skin infections.
Andrew Clayton of Penningtons Manches’ clinical negligence team comments: “We know from clients who have experienced gram-negative infections, like MRSA and pneumonia, that the effects can be devastating, even fatal. MRSA has become so common that contracting the infection is not unusual. It is imperative that doctors act quickly to recognise the signs of these infections as early as possible and instigate therapy urgently to treat patients.
“Sadly, we know from a number of cases that the required standard of care is not always delivered promptly enough. It will take time to move from successful laboratory experiments to widely available human treatment, but a generation of antibiotics that would deliver a new line of defence offers hope of a real breakthrough in the fight against resistant infections.”