‘Trojan horse’ antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria, scientists find

Scientists say a new antibiotic has proved effective against drug-resistant bacteria (Izzat Suffian, Kuo-Ching Mei/PA) Credit: Press Association Images

A new antibiotic which acts as a “Trojan horse” has proved effective against drug-resistant bacteria, researchers have said.

Scientists say trials on 448 people with kidney or urinary tract infections found the drug cefiderocol eradicated germs just as effectively as current treatments.

The drug tricks the bacteria’s biology by binding to iron to enter cells – working much like the Trojan horse that was used to sneak the ancient Greeks into the city of Troy.

Experts say the results of the research highlight the potential of cefiderocol as a new option for treating highly resistant bacteria.

Research leader Dr Simon Portsmouth, of Shionogi Inc, said: “Cefiderocol was found to be both safe and tolerable in a population of older patients who were very ill with complex conditions and a wide range of multidrug-resistant pathogens.

“Our results support cefiderocol as a novel approach that might be used to overcome Gram-negative resistance.”

The Government has been warned it must prioritise antimicrobial resistance. Credit: PA

The drug, he said, takes advantage of the bacteria’s need for iron to survive by binding to iron, which transports it past the bacteria’s defences and into its cells.

The findings, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, come amid the growing threat of human resistance to antibiotics, which has been labelled one of the most urgent threats to public health by medical professionals.

Earlier this week, a new report detailed that bloodstream infections caused by bugs resistant to one or more key antibiotics had risen by 35% in just four years.

Public Health England (PHE) calculated that if antibiotics become ineffective then three million operations and cancer treatments would become life-threatening.

Trials are currently under way to study the effectiveness of cefiderocol against pneumonia and infections resistant to some of the most powerful drugs, carbapenems.