Some time ago I noted the dangers of bacteria becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics, to the point where some are now “pan-resistant”. In other words, untreatable with existing antibiotics. Those dangers assuredly still exist but a few days ago a bit of good news arrived for a change.
More [classes of antibiotics], hopefully, are coming. A team of scientists led by Kim Lewis from Northeastern University have identified a new antibiotic called teixobactin, which kills some kinds of bacteria by preventing them from building their outer coats. They used it to successfully treat antibiotic-resistant infections in mice. And more importantly, when they tried to deliberately evolve strains of bacteria that resist the drug, they failed. Teixobactin appears resistant to resistance.
Bacteria will eventually develop ways of beating teixobactin—remember Orgel—but the team are optimistic that it will take decades rather than years for this to happen. That buys us time.