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Killing superbugs: old antibiotic may be the answer

Old antibiotic colistin may hold the key to treat superbugs, reveal researchers from Imperial College London, UK (1). Researchers finally unveil how this antibiotic can punch holes and destroy some of the most dangerous and hard to treat bacteria. What’s more, the team also identified a possible way of making this antibiotic even more effective at killing bacteria.

Colistin –  also known as polymyxin E – is an antibiotic typically only prescribed to patients as a last resort to treat some of the nastiest multidrug-resistant Gram-negative infections, including pneumonia.

First described in 1947, colistin is one of the very few antibiotics still active against superbugs, including E. coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, or Acinetobacter baumannii. This treatment can be injected into a vein or into a muscle, as well as inhaled in the form of colistimethane sodium, or applied to the skin or taken by mouth in the form of colistin sulfate.

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