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New Test Reveals Existing Antibiotics Can Cure Superbugs

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 02 May 2023
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Image: A new AST has revealed that FDA-approved antibiotics can treat multidrug-resistant infections (Photo courtesy of Freepik)
Image: A new AST has revealed that FDA-approved antibiotics can treat multidrug-resistant infections (Photo courtesy of Freepik)

A new test has revealed that FDA-approved antibiotics, readily available at local pharmacies, can effectively combat superbugs. These antibiotics are not prescribed due to the gold-standard test indicating their inefficacy. This novel test could revolutionize the development, testing, and prescription of antibiotics, playing a crucial role in the battle against bacterial resistance by optimizing the use of existing antibiotics and bolstering the search for new ones.

The antibiotic study by a team of scientists at UC Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, CA, USA) tackled a fundamental issue in the current healthcare approach to determining antibiotic resistance, which fails to consider the environmental conditions within the body that influence drug efficacy. By replicating these conditions, the new test pinpointed several effective antibiotics that standard testing had dismissed. When both the new and standard tests concurred, a near-perfect prediction of treatment success or failure emerged. The study involved extensive screening of over 500 antibiotic-bacteria combinations, with the findings indicating that the standard test is inaccurate approximately 15% of the time. Since doctors depend on this test to guide treatment decisions, it may result in the prescription of inappropriate antibiotics.

Medical professionals are aware of the gold-standard test's limitations. When the suggested antibiotics prove ineffective, physicians must draw upon their experience to determine the most suitable antibiotic(s) for their patients. This study offers a potential solution to bridge the gap between the antibiotics suggested by standard testing and actual patient outcomes. The new test could lead to substantial cost savings for the healthcare sector as they endeavor to identify novel drugs to combat antimicrobial-resistant infections.

“Reevaluation of FDA-approved antibiotics may be of far greater benefit than the time and cost of developing new drugs to combat antimicrobial resistance,” explained Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital physician Lynn Fitzgibbons, M.D., “potentially leading to significant life-savings and cost-savings.”

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