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  • Superbug antibiotic search launched in Qld

    Author: AAP

Queensland scientists have launched a global search for antibiotics to combat superbugs.

Queensland scientists have launched a global search for new antibiotics as a Victorian health service grapples with a superbug found in 18 dead patients.

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University of Queensland researchers will screen compounds from around the world in a bid to discover antibiotics to combat superbugs, which pose a major threat to public health.

Professor Matthew Cooper said hospitals were running out of options to treat lethal bugs, including the deadly Klebsiella Pneumoniae Carbapenemase (KPC), which is particularly worrying health authorities in Victoria.

"One in three people who are infected with it die," he told AAP.


"For the people who do survive, there's only one antibiotic that works and it's an old one that causes damage to the kidneys."

The UQ initiative will invite chemists from around the world to submit compounds to be screened for antimicrobial activity.

Prof Cooper said many chemical compounds went on a shelf or in a fridge without being tested.

He's hopeful of what scientists might find as they screen more than 50,000 compounds in the next 18 months.

The $3.1 million search, which will establish an open database, comes as Victorian hospitals introduce heightened infection controls to deal with KPC.

Since 2012, 57 Victorians have been found with a KPC infection and 18 have died with the superbug in their systems.

It's believed the bug was brought into the country by people who spent time in hospital while visiting Greece or Asia.

Prof Cooper said the outbreak was a sign of things to come.

"Twenty years ago we didn't really know anything about superbugs ... over time it (the threat) is just getting worse and worse."

Overuse of antibiotics had contributed to the problem, he said.

Researchers in Belfast recently discovered a new inhibitor to stop KPC from blocking the body's natural defences but are yet to test it on humans.


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