A combination of three antibiotics was effective against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) where as individual agents, would not have been effective against the pathogen. Findings from the study are published in Nature Chemical Biology.

Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis successfully killed MRSA in test tubes and laboratory mice by combining meropenem, piperacillin, and tazobactam. All three antibiotics are currently approved agents and belong to a class called beta-lactams. Beta-lactams have been typically ineffective against MRSA but as a trio, they synergistically attacked the bacterial cell wall. The drugs also did not produce resistance in the MRSA pathogen.

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Study authors initially tested and analyzed 73 variants of the MRSA microbe to encompass a range of hospital- and community-acquired forms of MRSA. Then they treated the different pathogens with the three drug combination and discovered that they were effective in each case. The three drug combination also cured mice infected with MRSA and proved as effective as one of the strongest antibiotics currently available.

The team is also studying other antibiotics once thought to be ineffective against various pathogens such as Pseudomonas and E. coli to see if they may work when combined with other agents.

For more information visit WUSTL.edu.