Break-through in antibiotic treatment of hospital-acquired pneumonia

60% of cases treatable with new drug combination

Dr Antoni Torres, chief investigator in antibiotic study (by ACN)
Dr Antoni Torres, chief investigator in antibiotic study (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

December 16, 2017 12:24 PM

A new study published in the medical journal ‘The Lancet Infectious Diseases’ headed and co-written by the Catalan Dr. Antoni Torres, has set a new precedent in the use of antibiotics in the treatment of hospital-acquired pneumonia.

Although the fixed-dose drug combination containing an antibiotic, ceftazimide-avibactam, is similar in its effectiveness to other antibiotics (carbapenems) currently used to treat infection, it has the advantage of overcoming specific problems with its administration, such as the resistance of certain bacteria.

The principal investigator of the study, Dr. Torres, is the head of the Respiratory Intensive Surveillance Unit (UVIR) at Hospital Clinic, one of the main hospitals in Barcelona. According to him, this break-through could help change the way hospital-acquired pneumonia is treated.

A common infection

Hospital-acquired pneumonia is the most common type of infection caught in a hospital, and often a leading cause of death especially in critical patients. A patient may be admitted to hospital for something completely unrelated, and end up catching an infection such as pneumonia. Between 5 and 20 out of every 1,000 hospital admissions may contract the infection and die.

Despite treatment being available for this infection, which has a mortality rate of around 10%, there is an increasing number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. A subtype of the bacteria that causes 60% of hospital-acquired pneumonia cases, are resistant to carbapenems, the standard antibiotic used in the treatment of infections caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria.

This study opens the door to the use of a new combination of antibiotics to treat hospital-acquired pneumonia," said Dr. Torres. According to the doctor, using ceftazimide-avibactam instead allows the prevention of further bacteria resistances developing against carbapenem.

"The importance of the work lies in the fact that ceftazimide-avibactam is the first new antibiotic that effectively resolves these problems," Dr. Torres said.