Two antibiotic strategies known as cycling and mixing employed to outwit bacteria do not work, according to an analysis performed in a new study published in the advanced online edition of Molecular Biology and Evolution.

This theoretical work, by mathematicians Robert Beardmore, Rafael Pena-Miller, Fabio Gori and clinician Jon Iredell, may help explain why recent clinical trials like the Saturn project – explicitly designed to resolved the ongoing issue of high controversy (antibiotic cycling vs mixing) – may not work. In the Saturn project, the researchers concluded that there were no statistically significant differences in the prevalence of antibiotic resistance during mixing and cycling interventions.

The team have shown that “determining whether cycling or mixing selects best against drug resistant pathogens is not possible, even in standardized questions using mathematical models, let alone in the clinic,” according to lead author Robert Beardmore.