Scientists in Massachusetts are describing successful use of a test that enlists pinhead-sized worms in efforts to discover badly needed new antibiotics.
This is an advance that could help ease the antibiotic drought. Their study appeared in ACS Chemical Biology, a monthly journal.
Frederick Ausubel and colleagues note in the new study that existing methods for identifying germ-fighting drugs involve adding the potential drug to cultures of bacteria or cells and watching the results. These tests sometimes do not work well. They may give passing grades to potential drugs that are toxic, or that fight bacteria in the same ways as existing antibiotics that are loosing effectiveness against drug-resistant bacteria. A much better test would involve screening of potential new antibiotics in living animals infected with bacteria to see the effects on the entire body of the animal.