A new automated system for measuring the effectiveness of “antibiotic cocktails” devised by biology and computer-science researchers from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa has been published in the journal Nature Microbiology.

The innovative method could be used to find the most effective antibiotic combinations, and allow for treatments to be individualized.

Antibiotics are widely used to control the growth of bacteria or kill other bacteria. However, the overuse of antibiotics led to the evolution of resistant bacteria. Many researchers are concerned about a “post-antibiotic era” in which bacteria will no longer be overcome by antibiotics.

Technion Prof. Roy Kishony and doctoral student Dor Russ examined the efficacy of cocktails of various antibiotics. They found that when the number of drugs in a combination is increased, the total drug dosage required for growth inhibition increases as well, but the dosage of each individual drug can be decreased without reducing the cocktail’s efficacy.

To confirm the accuracy of their automated evaluation system, the researchers examined different combinations of multiple antibiotics on several types of bacteria.

The study was supported by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Israeli Centers for Research Excellence (I-CORE) and the European Research Council (ERC).