As doctors battled a deadly, drug-resistant superbug at the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical Center last year, they turned to an antibiotic of last resort.
But colistin, as it’s called, is not a fancy new creation of modern biotechnology. It was discovered in a beaker of fermenting bacteria in Japan – in 1949.
That doctors have resorted to such an old, dangerous drug – colistin causes kidney damage – highlights the lack of new antibiotics coming out of the pharmaceutical pipeline even in the face of a global epidemic of hospital-acquired bugs that quickly grow resistant to the toughest drugs.
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