Finding a balance in antibiotic medicine: can we kill ‘bad’ bacteria while preserving the ‘good’?

Friday 13 October 2023

A new study led by Principal Research Fellow Dr Wilber Sabiiti has found that antibiotics used to treat tuberculosis also kill other potentially useful bacteria. Such “good” bacteria play a key role in strengthening the immune system and transforming the food we consume into essential nutrients.

Crucially, however, the study results also suggest that a careful balance of different antibiotics helps mitigate the impact of this “killing effect.” Particular combinations of drugs in certain amounts, the researchers found, allowed levels of these beneficial bacteria to recover quickly.

The study was conducted in collaboration with participants and researchers from Tanzania, and researchers from the universities of Radboud in Netherlands and Munich in Germany on behalf of the Pan African Consortium for Evaluation of anti-TB Antibiotics (PanACEA). Co-authors from the School of Medicine Infection and Global Health Research Division included Professor Stephen Gillespie and Dr Emmanuel Musisi.

The results highlight the need to expand early drug safety assessment to include evaluation of the potential harm posed by such medicines to useful microorganisms, says Dr Sabiiti.

Read more details of the study, published in The Lancet Microbe on 10 October, in the University’s press release.

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