The incredible discovery could see infections previously thought to be resistant to drugs, like MRSA, stopped in their tracks.
Until now antibiotics usually take up to a day to be effective.
But supercharge antibiotics have the capability to tear away at the bug’s surface and kill them.
Scientists have discovered a new super drug to tackle super bug
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University College London researchers have found a super antibiotic
Our findings will help us not only to design new antibiotics but also to modify existing ones to overcome resistance
Dr Joseph Ndieyira
Researchers from University College London found that antibiotics can still destroy bacteria if they “force the lock” by pushing hard enough.
By 2050, it is predicted more people will die from drug-resistant bugs than cancer.
Study leader Dr Joseph Ndieyira said: “Antibiotics need to bind the bacterial cells to kill them. Antibiotics have ‘keys’ that fit ‘locks’ on cell surfaces, allowing them to latch on.
“When a bacterium becomes resistant, it effectively changes the locks so the key won’t fit. Incredibly we found that certain antibiotics can still ‘force’ the lock, allowing them to bind up and kill resistant bacteria.
“Some of the antibiotics were so strong they tore the door off its hinges, killing the bacteria instantly.”
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The researchers used modern state-of-the-art equipment to measure the forces that four different antibiotics exerted on bacterial cells.
The study tested vancomycin, a powerful antibiotic used as a last resort for MRSA and oritavancin, a modified version of vancomycin used to tackle complex skin conditions.
The researchers used modern state of the art equipment
Both worked in different ways – the much more powerful oritavancin pressed into resistant bacteria with a force 11,000 times stronger than vancomycin, despite the pair having the same “keys”.
Vancomycin took six to 24 hours to kill bacteria, while oritavancin took just 15 minutes.
Dr Ndieyira said: “Our study suggests that the forces oritavancin generates can actually tear holes in the bacteria and rip them apart.
“Oritavancin is just a modified version of vancomycin, and now we know how these modifications work we can do similar things with other antibiotics.
Scientists tested oritavancin and vancomycin
“This will help us to create a new generation of antibiotics to tackle multi-drug resistant bacterial infections, now recognised as one of the greatest global threats in modern healthcare.”
He added: “Our findings will help us not only to design new antibiotics but also to modify existing ones to overcome resistance."
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