10 Dec 2015

Combatting superbugs – potential role of combination antibiotic therapy

By Dr Jodie Abramovitch

Infections caused by drug resistant (methicillin-resistant) Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a type of bacteria, can have serious health consequences. These infections are typically found in hospitals but can also occur within the community. MRSA is known as a superbug because it is able to survive many types of antibiotic treatments. 

Prof. Anton Peleg
Daptomycin is a ‘last-line’ antibiotic and is commonly used in the treatment of MRSA infections. However, there is evidence that daptomycin is unable to treat some MRSA infections which means alternative treatments are urgently required to prevent the spread of infection.

Monash researchers Dr Jhih-Hang Jiang and Professor Anton Peleg (Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases) study hospital-acquired infections and have recently focussed on how to combat daptomycin-resistant S. aureus. Samples of S. aureus from patients with infections were isolated and treated with different antibiotics, alone and in combination. When treated with both daptomycin and another antibiotic called gentamicin, antibiotic-resistant S. aureus was more effectively killed when compared to daptomycin treatment alone. However, it was noted that this approach may be associated with toxic side effects when used in patients.

This study concluded that combination therapy is an effective way to treat and limit the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of S. aureus, particularly in deep-seated, complicated infections. Further research is still required to balance the benefits of this approach with the potential risks. 

Reference: Jiang JH, Peleg AY. Daptomycin-Nonsusceptible Staphylococcus aureus: The Role of Combination Therapy with Daptomycin and Gentamicin. Genes (Basel). 2015 Nov; 6:1256-67

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