The discovery also opens up for a new view of multiple sclerosis.
Washington: They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and this applies just as well to infectious diseases. Now, a new study shows that a 20-year-old widely used medicine for multiple sclerosis can fight a type of multi-resistant bacteria.
Encountering bacteria with innocent names such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterobacteriaceae can lead to hospitalisation and - in a worst-case scenario - can also be life-threatening. The bacteria, which cause infections such as pneumonia, frequently develop multi-resistance towards classic antibiotics.
The Aarhus University researchers discovered that a drug known as glatiramer acetate, which is normally used for treating the disease multiple sclerosis, has a hitherto unknown effect on obstinate bacteria.
Laboratory experiments have shown that the drug kills half of the Pseudomonas bacteria in specimens from patients with cystic fibrosis who are often exposed to the bacteria in the lungs.
Researcher Thomas Vorup-Jensen said that they see great perspectives in the discovery because the data shows that the drug is effective against infections that occur because of what are known as Gram-negative bacteria, which form the basis of diseases such as pneumonia, cystitis and septic shock.
"Due to growing resistance, we are experiencing a decline in the number of effective treatments against them, and some of the medicaments which we otherwise know to be effective must be given in such high doses to be effective that they become toxic for the patients," he added.
The discovery also opens up for a new view of multiple sclerosis. "The results give us greater knowledge about how the drug works on sclerosis patients and indicates at the same time that bacteria might be part of the problem with the disease. This is also indicated by some studies," noted Thomas Vorup-Jensen.
The research is published in the scientific journal Scientific Reports.