While bacteria are masters at adapting to antibiotic challenge, the new technique called 'sequential treatments' using alternating doses of antibiotics at low dosages  could be a way to use this adaptation against them."Our study finds a complex relationship between dose, bacterial population densities and drug resistance," said lead author Robert Beardmore from the University of Exeter in Britain.

The research indicates that drug treatments with two antibiotics can be designed to kill bacteria at dosages that would ordinarily cause rapid development of drug resistance and sustained bacterial growth, when administered alone or in combination, the researchers noted."As we demonstrate, it is possible to reduce bacterial load to zero at dosages that are usually said to be sub-lethal," Beardmore pointed out.

The researchers used a test tube model of a bacterial infection to show that even in bacteria that already harbour drug resistance genes, sequential treatments could deal with the bacteria even when much higher doses of single drugs or mixtures of two drugs failed to do so.

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