Scientists have discovered a class of agents, in the fight against "superbugs," that can make some of the most notorious strains vulnerable to the same antibiotics that they once handily shrugged off.
The report on the promising agents called metallopolymers appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Chuanbing Tang and colleagues note that the antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is responsible for a significant fraction of the infections that patients acquire in hospitals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MRSA usually spreads in hospitals when a health care provider with contaminated hands unknowingly passes it along to a patient. It can cause serious problems such as pneumonia, and can lead to death. One of the ways MRSA undermines conventional treatments is by producing enzymes that inactivate traditional antibiotics such as penicillin. Scientists have been developing new agents to combat these enzymes, but the agents so far have fallen short. Tang's team wanted to find a better alternative.