Published on 26/05/2022
New antibiotic combination developed at Aston University helps save life of cystic fibrosis patient
  • Used to treat a patient with cystic fibrosis who recovered from infection 
  • Combination of imipenem/relebactam with amoxicillin was discovered to be highly effective against deadly Mycobacterium abscessus
  • Antibiotic combination pioneered by Dr Jonathan Cox at Aston University’s College of Health and Life Sciences

A new antibiotic combination developed by researchers at Aston University has formed part of a lifesaving treatment used in the USA. 

The antibiotic combination of imipenem/relebactam with amoxicillin was discovered to be highly effective against potentially deadly Mycobacterium abscessus - a bacterium that can cause serious lung infections in people with various chronic lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis

The discovery was made by a team led by  Dr Jonathan Cox, senior lecturer in microbiology in Aston University’s College of Health and Life Sciences

This combination has been used as part of the treatment for a patient in America, who subsequently recovered from their infection. 

The patient, who has cystic fibrosis, received the Aston University combination of antibiotics as part of a complex treatment regime, including an experimental therapy known as phage therapy, which uses viruses to treat bacterial infections. 

The combination successfully treated the patient’s infection and resulted in their being able to receive a live-saving lung transplant. 

A paper which describes the treatment has been published in the journal Cell, and states: “The combination of phage and antibiotics did not result in greater antibiotic resistance.” This means that the combined treatment was successful at eradicating the infection and enabling the patient to receive the lifesaving lung transplant. 

Dr Jonathan Cox said: 
“The successful treatment of this patient with the combination of antibiotics and phage demonstrates the impact of this combined approach for tackling antibiotic resistant Mycobacterium abscessus. 

“For my team at Aston University to have played a part in that success makes me incredibly proud.”

Notes to editors

Notes to Editors

The paper reporting this antibiotic combination was published by Dr Cox and team in 2019 in Scientific Reports Effect of Amoxicillin in combination with Imipenem-Relebactam against Mycobacterium abscessus

The study incorporating the Aston University treatment was published in the journal Cell Host and pathogen response to bacteriophage engineered against Mycobacterium abscessus lung infection Doi:


About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Saskia Hansen is the interim Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.


Aston University was named University of the Year 2020 by The Guardian and the University’s full time MBA programme has been ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking. The Aston MBA has been ranked 12th in the UK and 85th in the world.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Nicola Jones, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44)7825342091 or email:

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