There’s a new weapon in humankind’s ongoing battle against superbugs (that’s not Mothra, but antibiotic resistant viruses) and it looks vaguely familiar. Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute have re-engineered the antibiotic vancomycin, and it’s proving to be a thousand times more potent than the old drug, the PNAS journal reports.
The researchers started tinkering with vancomycin, because it has been around for 60 years and bugs only started developing resistance to it recently. The lead researcher called the drug “magical” thanks to its ability to fight infections. The newly amped up vancomycin has yet to be tested in animals and people, but the Scripps team hopes the drug will be ready for use in five years, so we just have to stay alive long enough for it to be on the market. The World Health Organization warns that antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development, so basically we’re in a heart-stopping race against the clock that would fit right in with a remake of Escape From New York.