Scientists at the University of Lincoln have successfully synthesised a new medicine capable of killing superbugs, in a discovery which is being described as a ‘breakthrough’ in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

With further development, the drug could be the first new class of antibiotic for 30 years. Photo: Amayzun/Flickr

Researchers at the university were able to successfully treat a bacterial infection in mice using a simplified version of teixobactin – a natural antibiotic.

Dr Ishwar Singh, from the University of Lincoln’s School of Pharmacy, said: “When teixobactin was discovered it was groundbreaking in itself as a new antibiotic which kills bacteria without detectable resistance including superbugs such as MRSA, but natural teixobactin was not created for human use.

“A significant amount of work remains in the development of teixobactin as a therapeutic antibiotic for human use – we are probably around six to ten years off a drug that doctors can prescribe to patients – but this is a real step in the right direction.”

The findings, published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, mean that a basic form of teixobactin could be used in a new drug to treat bacterial infections.

If it later becomes fully suitable for humans, it would mark the first new class of antibiotic drug for 30 years.