SYDNEY, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- A global effort involving researchers from Australia's University of Queensland (UQ) has scored a victory in the fight against superbugs, by tweaking the use of existing antibiotics to dramatically reduce fatality rates.
By adjusting the antibiotic used to treat resistant strains of the superbugs Klebsiella and E. coli, a team including UQ researchers was able to reduce patient mortality rates from 12.3 percent to 3.7 percent.
"There is an urgent need to consider appropriate antibiotic use in the face of rising antibiotic resistance," UQ's Centre for Clinical Research director, Professor David Paterson said.
"Superbugs, Klebsiella and E. coli, are regarded as a critical threat by the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention as they become increasingly resistant to most commonly used antibiotics."
The trial involved treating 400 patients stricken with life threatening superbugs at the Royal Brisbane Women's Hospital, as well as patients at 25 other hospitals worldwide.
Doctor's used the inexpensive and already common antibiotic meropenem, meaning that treatment practices can be updated immediately rather than waiting for a new drug to pass approval, which can take years.
"We found that prescribing the common antibiotic meropenem was more effective against the superbug than other antibiotic treatments, and drastically increased the rate of survival," Paterson said.
The international research effort will continue with trials into the problem of resistance to cephalosporin antibiotics, which is especially prevalent in South East Asia.