Researchers at Monash and Harvard Universities have found a way to make antibiotics more effective against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as ‘superbugs’. Antimicrobial resistance to superbugs is one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity, according to the World Health Organisation.
They believe this new research will provide a pathway to increasing the effectiveness of antibiotics, without clinicians having to resort to risky strategies of giving patients higher doses or relying on the discovery of new types of antibiotics.
During a bacterial infection, the body uses molecules called chemoattractants to recruit neutrophils to the site of the infection. Neutrophils are immune cells with the ability to encapsulate and kill dangerous bacteria, critical to the immune response. Researchers attached a chemoattractant to an antibiotic, enabling them to enhance the recruitment of immune cells and improve their killing ability.
The researchers linked a chemoattractant known as formyl peptide to vancomycin, a commonly used antibiotic that binds to the surface of the bacteria, and performed their studies on golden staph infections, one of the more problematic antibioticresistant bacteria.
“By stimulating our powerful immune system in this way with the immunotherapeutic antibiotic, we’ve shown in mouse models that the treatment is two-fold more effective than just using the antibiotic alone at one-fifth lower dose,” said Associate Professor Max Cryle, an EMBL Australia Group Leader at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute.
The work has resulted in a patent covering the immunotherapeutic, with the IP owned by Monash University. The findings were published in Nature Communications.