News National Aussie researchers find natural antibiotic teixobactin ‘outsmarts’ hard-to-treat superbugs
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Aussie researchers find natural antibiotic teixobactin ‘outsmarts’ hard-to-treat superbugs

The breakthrough could help treat coronavirus complications. Photo: Getty
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Australian researchers have found antibiotics to beat stubborn superbugs that may help fight COVID-19 health complications.

University of Melbourne experts have shown a natural antibiotic, teixobactin, can outsmart a superbug to treat bacterial lung conditions and those commonly linked with COVID-19.

The research released on Wednesday explains how the drug works to tackle the superbug Staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA.

MRSA is among the bacteria responsible for many hard-to-treat infections in humans, especially post-viral secondary ones such as COVID-19 chest infections and influenza.

The Victorian team has shown how teixobactin permanently kills MRSA and prevents it from mutating into a resistant form.

“Overall we are pretty unhealthy. We have this virus which is not as lethal as the Spanish Flu,” Associate Professor Tony Velkov told AAP.

“And then afterwards, people get bacterial infections … and the new antibiotics can be potentially useful to treat it.”

Research fellow in anti-infectives Maytham Hussein said “the rise of a multi drug-resistant bacteria has become inevitable”.

“These bacteria cause many deadly infections, particularly in immunocompromised patients such as diabetic patients or those with cancers, or even elderly people with post-flu secondary bacterial infections,” Dr Hussein said.

The University of Melbourne team is the first to find that teixobactin significantly suppressed mechanisms to resist antibiotics recommended for complicated skin infections, bloodstream infections, endocarditis, bone and joint infections, and MRSA-caused meningitis.

The antibiotic was first discovered five years ago by a team led by Professor Kim Lewis at Northeastern University in Boston.

His company has since turned to developing it as a human treatment.

The research has been published in mSystems journal.