University of Sheffield Researchers Discover New Compound Kills Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs


University of Sheffield, UK and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) researchers have discovered a new compound which according to Science Daily “visualizes and kills antibiotic resistant superbugs”

Who Made the Discovery?

Professor Jim Thomas (Univ. of Sheffield) was testing new compounds developed by his PhD student Kirsty Smitten on antibiotic resistant gram-negative bacteria, including pathogenic E. coli.

What are Gram-Negative Bacteria Strains?

These cause infections including pneumonia, urinary tract infections and bloodstream infections. Difficult to treat, the cell wall acts as a fortress, preventing any drug from penetrating the microbe.

The Toll

Over 25,000 die each year in the EU alone from antimicrobial resistance, and the future is ominous if not addressed as some predict up to 10 million per year could die.


Physicians haven’t had any gram-negative specific treatments in the past 50 years. No potential drugs have been in clinical since 2010.

The  Discovery

As Professor Jim Thomas explains for Science Daily, “As the compound is luminescent it glows when exposed to light. This means the uptake and effect on bacteria can be followed by the advanced microscope techniques available at RAL.

The Sheffield research evidences the several modes of action taken by the compound, therefore making it more difficult for resistance to emerge in the bacteria.