HOUSTON About 88,000 deaths annually are attributed to infections picked up during US hospital stays. In about 16,000 of them the bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. The spread of drug-resistant bacteria in hospitals has increased 300–400% since 1995 according to Donald Low, chief of microbiology at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital.

For years the last line of defence against drug-resistant bacteria has been vancomycin. But bacteria already resistant to other antibiotics are becoming increasingly resistant to vancomycin. So physicians were encouraged when Pharmacia introduced Zyvox last year. The first new antibiotic in 25 years and known generically as linezolid, Zyvox is the first of a class of drugs called oxazolidinones. (The correct chemical name is actually oxazolidenediones.) Linezolid has an unusual mechanism of action. It binds to the 23S ribosomal RNA of the 50S subunit on the bacterial ribosome to prevent formation of an initiation complex in protein synthesis. By...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?