'Magical' antibiotic in triple attack on bacteria
A "magical" antibiotic has been modified to make it more potent against bacteria, in an advance researchers hope will help fight the threat of antibiotic-resistant infections.
The medicine, vancomycin, has been prescribed by doctors for 60 years and bacteria are only now becoming resistant to it.
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute in the US have modified the drug so it works in three separate ways on bacteria, making it much harder for them to develop resistance.
They said doctors could use the modified form of vancomycin without fear of resistance emerging.
The World Health Organisation warns antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development, with major diseases becoming harder to treat because the drugs used on them are becoming less effective.
Previous studies by the team showed it was possible to add two modifications to vancomycin, a drug they labelled "magical" because of its strength against infection, to make it even more potent and reduce the amount of the medicine needed to have the same effect.
The new study is published in the journal 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences'.
Dale Boger, co-chair of TSRI's Department of Chemistry, who led the research, said: "Organisms just can't simultaneously work to find a way around three independent mechanisms of action.
"Even if they found a solution to one of those, the organisms would still be killed by the other two."