Research Team Tackles New Superbugs with Older Antibiotics

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Researchers at the University of Buffalo are hoping a familiar friend from the past will help them battle some potential problems in the present and future.

Researchers at the University of Buffalo are hoping a familiar friend from the past will help them battle some potential problems in the present and future.

Thanks to a school record grant of $4.4 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the scientists at the school will be looking at ways polymyxin antibiotics can be used against “superbugs.”

Originally developed more than 50 years ago it is hoped that the antibiotics, which were shown to be damaging to the kidneys and nervous systems, could be effective against Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebisella pneumonia and other bacteria which have proven able to stand up to modern medicine’s antibiotics.

Leading the research for the department is associate profession Brian Tsuji, PharmD, who works as the director fo clinical research in the Department of Pharmacy Practice. According to a press release from the school Tsuji and his team will work with novel dosing regimens to boost antibacterial activity and hopefully reduce resistance and toxicity.

Tsuji said the research comes at an important time.

“This is a massive public health problem because the emergence of these new highly resistant strains has been coupled with a dwindling pipeline of development and approval for new drugs.”

Antibiotics like Polymyxins are still proving effective, but Tsuji said recent studies have shown resistance is building to them as well. With no other options available the professor said doctors are caught between needing to use stronger doses and risking the patient’s overall health including possible kidney toxicity.

“Therefore, we needed to think innovatively and differently about how to attack this problem," he said.

Using a Hollow Fiber Model System the team hopes to find a balance that can help critically ill patients.

“We want to mic conditions seen in real patients who are infected with these deadly strains by using model systems that mirror exact drug concentrations in the body,” he said. “In the lab, we can study these combination regimens very intensely over the same time frame that we would treat a patient with bacterial pneumonia (14 days) to understand the fundamental basis for drug resistence. This will allow us to address the public health disaster of antimicrobial resistance and to fight these deadly infections in severely ill patients where no traditional treatments exist.”

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