GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) on Wednesday said it had made a breakthrough in killing bacteria already resistant to existing treatments.
The discovery could help scientists develop new antibiotics to tackle resistant bacterial strains, especially those responsible for hospital-acquired infections.
The rapidly increasing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics due to decades of over-prescription for minor ailments in the West has become a global issue. In the European Union alone, more than 25 per cent of certain disease-causing bacteria have developed resistance, leading to the deaths of around 25,000 people in the EU every year.
Scientists conducted the research - collaboration between Glaxo, the Wellcome Trust's Seeding Drug Discovery initiative and the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency - backed by the Wellcome Trust's £4m grant. They discovered a compound which could potentially lead to a new class of antibiotic medicines that is effective against bacteria that cause such diseases as MRSA, pneumonia and E.coli.
The company hopes to test the drug in early stage human trials within three years.