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Method developed to fight antibiotic resistance using current antibiotics

Using a mathematical model to determine the correct sequence of administering antibiotics may help to prevent bacteria from becoming resistant to them.

By
Stephen Feller
Antibiotics are increasingly less effective against infections, however the right combinations given in the right order may be able to turn back the tide on pathogen resistance to the drugs. Photo by PhotoStock10/Shutterstock
Antibiotics are increasingly less effective against infections, however the right combinations given in the right order may be able to turn back the tide on pathogen resistance to the drugs. Photo by PhotoStock10/Shutterstock

TAMPA, Fla., Oct. 12 (UPI) -- The increasing number of bacteria resistant to antibiotics poses a problem, however researchers at the Moffitt Cancer Center devised a mathematical model to determine the correct sequence of antibiotic treatment to counter resistance.

The researchers believe treating bacteria with combinations of antibiotics over time may reduce or even eliminate resistant organisms.

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"Our results suggest that, through careful ordering of antibiotics, we may be able to steer evolution to a dead end from which resistance cannot emerge," said Daniel Nichol, a doctoral student at the University of Oxford and researcher at the Moffitt Cancer Cancer, in a press release.

Researchers used a Markov matrix to determine the probability of E.coli to survive in antibiotics, analyzing 15 antibiotics for efficacy based on the mathematical model. They found that 70 percent of combinations of two to four drugs promoted resistance to the antibiotics.

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The order drugs are administered makes a significant difference, researchers wrote in the study, because certain combinations have the ability to either promote or prevent bacteria from evolving to survive antibiotic treatment.

Careless, or at least less careful, use of unnecessarily strong antibiotics can help promote the development of resistance, they said, suggesting that more research be done on the most effective combinations to treat specific bacteria.

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"Our results can be easily tested in the laboratory, and if validated could be used in clinical trials immediately, as all of the compounds we studied are FDA approved and commonly prescribed," said Dr. Jacob Scott, of Moffitt's radiation oncology and integrated mathematical oncology departments.

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The study is published in PLOS: Computational Biology.

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