Antimicrobial Agents & Resistance

Multiple Sclerosis Medicine Also Kills Multi-Drug Resistant Bacteria


Glatiramir acetate, a drug that has been used to treat multiple sclerosis for the last 20 years, can also kill Gram-negative bacteria, especially Pseudomonas aeroginosa that causes pneumonia, colonizes the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients, and has become resistant to many antibiotics.

“Our data shows that the drug is effective against infections [from] Gram-negative bacteria,” said Thomas Vorup-Jensen, who led the researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark.  “These bacteria form the basis of diseases such as pneumonia, cystitis, and septic shock.  Due to growing resistance, we are experiencing a decline in the number of effective treatments against them, and some of the medicaments that we otherwise know to be effective must be given in such high doses…that they become toxic for the patients.”

Vorup-Jensen explained that it takes around 10 years to prove that a medicine is safe for human patients.  The fact that glatiramer acetate has already been proven safe and is currently in use is a huge advantage in the fight against antibiotic resistance.  The team’s research is part of a new global movement to repurpose already existing drugs to treat different diseases than the ones for which they were originally developed.

The research has also given the scientific community new information on the way multiple sclerosis works and could indicate that bacteria are part of its disease process.

Caption: Differentiation of bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa

For more information, go to the November 15 issue of Scientific Reports.