New drug is potential game-changer for antibiotic resistance

A new antibiotic may hold the key to combating drug-resistant infections, according to research published in Nature.

Researchers at Northeastern University, led by Kim Lewis of the university's Antimicrobial Discovery Center, developed and tested Teixobactin, an antibiotic that, in lab trials, cured mice of a superbug form of Staphylococcus aureus. It also killed resistant strains of anthrax, Clostridium difficile, Staphylococcus and tuberculosis in a lab dish setting. Human trials are likely two to three years away, Lewis told CBS News, and barring further complications, it will be at least five years before the drug is commercially available.

Lewis and her team isolated 50,000 different bacteria specimens found in soil, from which they developed 25 new antibiotics, one of which was Teixobactin. Thus far, the compound seems significantly less susceptible to the mutations that typically create antibiotic resistance in bacteria, which may radically alter the approach healthcare takes to address such infections.

"My guess is that if resistance is going to develop against Teixobactin, it will take more than 30 years for that to occur," Lewis told CBS News. If the drug is approved in trials, Teixobactin would initiate a new category of pharmaceuticals, lipid II binding antibiotics, according to a statement.

Antibiotic resistance is a major problem in hospitals, and October research indicated providers typically give patients broad-spectrum antibiotics, which worsen the risk of drug-resistant infection, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Length of stay also increases the risk of such infections, according to a study presented last September, with patients' chances of infection increasing 1 percent with each day spent in the hospital. 

To learn more:
- here's the study abstract
- read the CBS article
- check out the statement