It has long been thought that combining two drugs that can jointly battle bacteria might be the way to go, however pharmaceutical companies have been scared off by the exponential possibilities of side-effects and complications.
Even so, scientists have now discovered a molecule found in common household fungus Aspergillus versicolor can protect antibiotic products from the enzymes that the NDM-1 superbug uses to defeat them.
It has worked on mice, so the next step will be combining it with an antibiotic and seeing if it is safe for humans.
The fungus turns out to be one of the most resilient organisms on the planet, able to survive in the harsh climates of the arctic, the salty Dead Sea and even the International Space Station. That hardiness also makes it among the most common molds in damp or water-damaged buildings and moist air ducts.
When Wright and his team tested the fungus in mice infected with lethal doses of K. pneumoniae that carried the NDM-1 resistance to antibiotics, the mice shrugged off the infection. In fact, the fungus allowed the antibiotic to work effectively again, essentially circumventing the bacteria’s attempt at resisting the drug.
“The idea of rescuing our old antibiotics, is something that folks are starting to realize is not only a good idea, but doable,” he says.