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Health | Science

OSU Researchers Make Strides In New Treatment for "Superbugs"

OPB | Oct. 16, 2013 12:06 p.m. | Updated: Oct. 16, 2013 2:01 p.m.

Scanning electron microscope image of A. baumannii, with maps of its genome (outer circle) and alien island sequences (inner circle – red).

Scanning electron microscope image of A. baumannii, with maps of its genome (outer circle) and alien island sequences (inner circle – red).

Courtesy of J.Carr/CDC; T.Gianoulis and D.Massa/Yale

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that two million Americans are infected with antibiotic-resistant bactera every year and at least 23,000 die from those infections. Researchers at Oregon State University and other institutions published a paper this week about a new kind of antibiotic that could treat these drug-resistant bacteria, sometimes called superbugs.

The new antibiotics, known by the acronym PPMO, are still in development and won’t be tested on humans for at least a few years. In animal tests, PPMOs were effective in treating a strain of Acinetobacter, a dangerous pathogen that often strikes patients in hospital intentsive care units. Unlike many existing antibiotics, the new drug is completely synthetic. It’s designed to be incredibly precise, attacking a specific strain of bacteria at the genetic level.

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