Now, a drug that protects against bacterial superbugs

Sydney: Doctors can now more confidently administer a drug that protects against bacterial superbugs, thanks to dosing guidelines for the antibiotic colistin.

Colistin treats serious infections in critically ill patients, including those with kidney failure who are receiving dialysis.

Developed by Monash University researchers, the guidelines will allow for more effective use of the drug and reduce the likelihood of bacteria developing resistance to it, the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy reports.

Professor Roger L. Nation and associate professor Jian Li, from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, played a key role in initiating the international research effort that led to the current study, according to a Monash statement.

They said colistin was increasingly the last option available to treat seriously ill patients who have infections caused by an important class of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, known as gram-negative `superbugs`.

"Unfortunately, colistin was developed more than 50 years ago when manufacturers were not required to provide accurate dosing guidelines. This has meant doctors are often shooting in the dark with respect to how much colistin should be administered to individual patients," Nation said.

Insufficient dosage could leave patients vulnerable to infection and enable bacteria to become resistant, which could lead to more powerful superbugs in the future, he said.

The research team based the dosing formula on a study of 105 critically ill patients who were administered the antibiotic.


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