A Once Powerful Antibiotic Goes the Way of All Flesh
Colistin’s rise to prominence was an improbable one. Born in 1959 to a flask of fermenting bacteria and a Japanese scientist, it nearly disappeared in the 1970s, when doctors deemed colistin too toxic. The antibiotic was a talented killer of bacteria, but also wreaked havoc on kidney cells, and in 1969, an overdose of colistin killed an otherwise healthy boy. The medical community shunned colistin for safer antibiotics. “It’s not an easy drug at all,” says Yohei Doi, an infectious disease expert at the University of Pittsburgh.