To fight the ever-growing threat from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, Australian researchers developed a therapy containing a repurposed experimental Alzheimer's drug, successfully killing some of the most difficult to treat superbugs.
Released on Thursday, the study, conducted by researchers from The University of Queensland (UQ), the University of Melbourne, and the Griffith University in Australia, used a metal transporting property of the drug called PBT2 to disrupt the antibiotic resistance mechanisms of those bacteria.
"Led by UQ's Dr. David De Oliveira, our team hypothesized that, by using this experimental Alzheimer's treatment to disrupt the metals inside these bacteria, we would also disrupt their mechanisms of antibiotic resistance," Professor Mark Walker from UQ said.
"This was shown to be the case, with the Alzheimer's drug - combined with the antibiotic polymyxin - successfully tackling antibiotic-resistant superbugs like klebsiella pneumoniae, acinetobacter baumannii, pseudomonas aeruginosa and escherichia coli."
The newly discovered use of PBT2 has also raised hope to revive some old antibiotics previously regarded as ineffective to treat infections caused by superbugs.
"Given that we've been able to combine it with the antibiotic polymyxin to treat polymyxin-resistant bacteria, we may be able to make other now-ineffective antibiotics become effective again for treating infectious disease," Professor Mark von Itzstein from the Institute for Glycomics in the Griffith University said.
"This could resharpen, so to speak, some of the weapons we thought we'd lost in our fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria."
Researchers said the treatment of combining polymyxin with PBT2 had also been proved effective on animal models and they hope the clinical trial would be started in a not-too-distant future as PBT2 had already been found safe to use on humans.