Common antibiotics could be “resuscitated” to make them more effective against resistant bugs, say researchers.
The technique involves combining the drugs with additional compounds.
Scientists from University College Dublin in the Irish Republic studied a range of hospital-sampled bacteria that were resistant to the common antibiotic ciprofloxacin.
Tests showed that five “adjuvant” compounds increased the power of ciprofloxacin to defeat the bugs up to six-fold.
Lead researcher Dr Marta Martins said: “Antimicrobial resistance is a growing problem that is threatening to make many infections impossible to treat. There are very few new antibacterial drugs coming on to the market so it is vital that we find ways to extend the use of existing antibiotics as much as possible.
“Adjuvant therapy essentially means that antibiotics that are currently ineffective can be ‘resuscitated’ to treat infections that previously would have been considered resistant.”
The research was presented at the Society for General Microbiology’s spring conference in Dublin.
Dr Martins added: “Hopefully this work will allow antibiotics to be incorporated into treatment regimes and administered in more effective ways.
“As well as extending the lifespan of current antibiotics, this approach could ultimately reduce levels of antimicrobial resistance in hospitals as well as in the community, allowing hard-to-treat bacterial infections to be successfully controlled.”