A new antibiotic – the first in nearly 30 years – has been discovered by scientists who claim it appears to be as good, or even better, than many existing drugs with the potential to work against a broad range of fatal infections such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.
Laboratory tests have shown the new antibiotic, called teixobactin, can kill some bacteria as quickly as established antibiotics and can cure laboratory mice suffering from bacterial infections with no toxic side-effects.
Studies have also revealed the prototype drug works against harmful bacteria in a unique way that is highly unlikely to lead to drug-resistance – one of the biggest stumbling blocks in developing new antibiotics.
Such a development would represent a huge boost for medicine because of growing fears that the world is running out of effective antibiotics given the rapid rise of drug-resistant strains of superbugs and the spread of these diseases around the globe.
Last year David Cameron warned that medicine could be cast back to the “dark ages” when people died of relatively trivial infections, especially following routine hospital operations, because of the lack of effective antibiotics.