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Painkillers may aid superbugs fight

Common painkillers may be effective in the fight against “superbugs”, research suggests.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may also kill bacteria, an Australian study has found.

The research, published in the Cell Press journal Chemistry and Biology, suggests NSAIDs act on bacteria in a way that is fundamentally different from antibiotics.

“NSAIDs could be developed into new kinds of antibiotics”

Aaron Oakley

Experts believe the discovery could eventually pave the way for new treatments to fight “superbugs” which are resistant to current antibiotics.

Dr Aaron Oakley, from the University of Wollongong in Australia, led the study on three NSAIDs: bromofenac, carprofen and vedaprofen.

He said: “We discovered that some anti-inflammatory drugs used in human and veterinary medicine have weak antibiotic activity and that they exert this secondary activity by preventing bacteria from copying their DNA, which they need to do in order to multiply.

Dr Aaron Oakley

Dr Aaron Oakley

“The fact that the bacteria-killing effect of the anti-inflammatory drugs is different from conventional drugs means that the NSAIDs could be developed into new kinds of antibiotics that are effective against so-called superbugs.

“This is important because the superbugs have become resistant to many − and in some cases most − of the available antibiotics.”


Readers' comments (5)

  • Common painkillers may be effective in the fight against “superbugs”, research suggests.

    No, the research doesn't say that, does it !

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Anonymous | 15-Mar-2014 3:00 pm

    what do you think it does say?

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  • michael stone

    The story is about some NSAIDS having a weak anti-bacterial effect (i.e. not very powerful) which seems to happen via a different mechansism from those used by contemporary antibiotics: so it isn't [current] common painkillers that may be effective as antibiotics, but rather new antibiotic drugs, which build on this weak antibiotic effect possessed by common painkillers.

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  • michael stone | 16-Mar-2014 12:45 pm

    oh, so clearly you now know better than the researchers!

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 16-Mar-2014 12:59 pm

    No, I'm saying the researchers are being mis-quoted !

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