New Drugs Fight Resistant Bacteria

Researchers have identified a novel class of drugs that may help combat the growing number of bacteria that resist standard antibiotics. These drugs, called hydrophobic tyramines, are unique because they target the biological mechanisms by which bacteria establish an infection within a host, according to the researchers. In a laboratory setting, one of the new agents successfully protected against Staphylococcus aureus, a strain of bacteria that causes many staph infections. The drug also eliminated bacteria that were resistant to the antibiotics vancomycin and penicillin. Last year, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed for the first time the existence of a Staphylococcus aureus strain that resisted treatment with vancomycin, the last drug that was believed to kill all strains. The researchers expect to test the drugs in humans in two to three years.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (1998;95:5317-5322)

COMMENT: Thank God we do have antibiotics! They do save people's lives every day. Unfortunately, for every time traditional medicine uses them appropriately there are at least ten to twenty times where they are used and cause complications. I see about 400 patients a month and probably use them about a dozen or so times in a one month period (excluding those who receive a protocol for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis). What is exciting about this article is that it is the first report that I am aware of that offers a treatment for Staph infections that have become resistant to every known drug that we have. Last week I read a report that the CDC documented the third case in this country. The first reported ever reported in the world only occured 1-2 years ago. This will eventually become a huge problem. I am grateful that traditional medicine has come through with a solution. Is it wishful thinking to believe that the prescribing habits of physicians will change by that time to prevent a similar problem? I think it is.

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