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Software shows potential in predicting development of superbugs

5th January 2015

A new approach to improving the treatment of drug-resistant bacteria has been opened up following the development of a new predictive software tool by Duke University.

Researchers from the university have created software that can predict the moves a constantly-evolving infectious bacterium will make to counter newly-developed drugs, even before the therapy is tested on patients.

They used the program to identify genetic changes that would allow methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) to develop resistance to a class of new experimental drugs that show promise against the superbug.

When live bacteria were treated with the new drug, two of the genetic changes arose as the algorithm had predicted.

Duke graduate student and study co-author Pablo Gainza-Cirauqui said: "If we can somehow predict how bacteria might respond to a particular drug ahead of time, we can change the drug, or plan for the next one, or rule out therapies that are unlikely to remain effective for long."

Antimicrobial resistance has been deemed a public health emergency by the World Health Organization, due to its rapid development and potential to render many commonly-used treatments useless in future.ADNFCR-8000103-ID-801768580-ADNFCR

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