Georgia Tech Antibiotics

Defeat Antibiotic Resistance with the Same Old Antibiotics but Smarter Strategies

In the war on antibiotic resistant bacteria, it’s not just the antibiotics that are making the enemy stronger but also how they are prescribed. A new study suggests that to win against resistance, doctors should keep using the same drugs but as part of more targeted treatments and in combination with other health strategies.

The current broad use of antibiotics helps resistant bacteria strains propagate, but prescribed precisely, the same drugs can help reverse the spread of resistant strains, said researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Duke University, and Harvard University who authored the study. But it can only work if combined with strategies that make sure people carrying resistant strains spread them to fewer people.

The new study delivers a mathematical model to help clinical and public health researchers devise new antibiotic prescription and supporting treatment strategies.

But basing a strategy on antibiotics needs to happen before bacteria resistant to most every known antibiotic become too widespread, rendering antibiotics ineffective. That has been widely predicted to occur by mid-century.

“Once you get to that pan-resistant state, it’s over,” said Sam Brown, who co-led the study and is an associate professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Biological Sciences. “Timing is unfortunately an issue in tackling antibiotic resistance.”

The strategic approach would also help clinicians treat infections effectively by flagging which antibiotics the bacteria are resistant to and which not.

“It’s great for fighting antibiotic resistance, but it’s also good for patients because we’ll always use the correct antibiotic,” Brown said.

The researchers published their study in the journal PLOS ONE on DATE XYZ. The research was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the Simons Foundation, the Human Frontier Science Program, the Wenner-Gren Foundations, and the Royal Physiographic Society of Lund.

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