Scientists in Belfast have found a potential new mechanism for making antibiotics for treating cystic fibrosis (CF) more effective in the face of growing resistance.

The Queen's University Belfast researchers have found that fat soluble vitamins could stop the antibiotics from becoming impeded.

The cause of many severe lung infections in those with CF, Burkholderia cenocepacia bacteria have become very resistant to antibiotics.

The team, led by Professor Miguel Valvano from the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine at Queen's, found the problem lay with lipocalins.

These are proteins which latch onto antibiotics, preventing them from destroying the bacteria.

But the scientists found that fat-soluble vitamins, like Vitamin E, can get over this problem, because they stick to the lipocalins more strongly than they do to the antibiotics.

Details of the study are published in the journal mBio.

The team is now examining ways of reformulating antibiotics with vitamins in order to improve their efficacy.

"This is an exciting and potentially life-changing finding, particularly relevant for cystic fibrosis patients who are chronically infected with multi-resistant bacteria," said Professor Valvano.

"Armed with this knowledge, we can focus our efforts on finding alternative solutions to more effectively treat the infection in these patients."