Supercharging old antibiotics: the potential of potentiators


Dr Alysha Elliott is forging a new weapon in the fight against superbugs – and it’s not antibiotics.

Instead, she is tapping into potentiators, non-antibiotic drugs that increase the potency of existing antibiotics to which bacteria have become resistant.

Helping antibiotics regain their activity

Dr Elliott said potentiators have been shown to help some antibiotics regain their activity against bacteria that have developed high levels of drug resistance, and reduce the amount of antibiotic required to effectively kill bacteria by up to 100-fold.

“The benefit is that we can potentially restore the use of cheap generic antibiotics that are widely used in low and middle income countries, where there are high levels of drug-resistant bacteria,” Dr Elliott said.

Sharing expertise with other countries

“We are also sharing our expertise and technologies with researchers in countries such as Pakistan, Nepal, Egypt, Nigeria, Brazil, Thailand and Indonesia so they can genetically sequence resistant bacteria strains in real-time as they emerge.”


Dr Elliott with colleagues Associate Professor Mark Blaskovich and Dr Johannes Zuegg.


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