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Drug-resistant bacteria & moth larvae


A treatment that can make antibiotics work again, against drug-resistant bacteria, holds promise to combat the pressing global threat of antibiotic resistance.

Researchers at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology of Rosario (IBR), Argentina, the University of the Republic, Uruguay, and the University of Eastern Finland (UEF) identified a way to improve the effectiveness of the antibiotic colistin, which different bacteria have developed resistance to – including multidrug-resistant (MDR) Salmonella.

Colistin has been the antibiotic of last resort when all other antibiotics prove ineffective, because it has unpleasant side effects like kidney toxicity.

In the study, researchers showed that when colistin was combined with the chemical compound quinazoline (which they previously found could enhance colistin), MDR Salmonella could once again be made sensitive to colistin in the lab.

The team then tested their approach in infected moth larvae and saw that survival was improved by around 30%, compared to when colistin and quinazoline were given separately. The treatment also worked on other types of bacteria, such as E. coli.

Greater wax moths were used as they can be reared easily and the size of the larvae allows precise injection of the required number of disease pathogens.

Christopher Asquith, at UEF, said: “The prospective to reshape treatment strategies and alleviate the global burden of MDR infections make this work a significant contribution to the antimicrobial research field.”


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