The Root Of Antibiotic Resistance Is Now Better Understood
The Root Of Antibiotic Resistance Is Now Better Understood
The discovery and development of antibiotic treatments was a game changer for humanity and modern medicine. Salvarsan was the first antibiotic deployed in 1910. Penicillin, of course, is the most famous antibiotic and this was discovered in 1928. Scientists say that we had 100 years of a golden era, where these wonder drugs extended the average lifespan of human beings by some 23 years. The good times could not last, however, with bacterial resistance beginning to show up as early as 1937. The real extent of this problem was not truly understood until much later in the second half of the twentieth century.
The important news today is that the root of antibiotic resistance is now better understood.
“Antibiotics have always been considered one of the wonder discoveries of the 20th century. This is true, but the real wonder is the rise of antibiotic resistance in hospitals, communities, and the environment concomitant with their use. The extraordinary genetic capacities of microbes have benefitted from man’s (sic) overuse of antibiotics to exploit every source of resistance genes and every means of horizontal gene transmission to develop multiple mechanisms of resistance for each and every antibiotic introduced into practice clinically, agriculturally, or otherwise.”
– Davies, 2010
Remarkable Antibiotic Resistance Cause Revealed
The adaptability of bacteria to evolve a resistance to antibacterial drugs has been known for a long time but the exact causal conditions have been poorly understood by biological scientists. The study of the genetic variants of a protein found in the bacterial membranes of Vibrio cholerae, the bacteria that cause cholera, has revealed new insights. The mutations included antimicrobial peptides that act as human defences in the gut. Using computational and molecular approaches, a team under Dr Almagro-Moreno at the University of Central Florida, began deciphering specific processes occurring which made bacteria resistant to antimicrobials. The team are exploring whether environmental factors like the warming of oceans and pollution contribute to bacterial evolving mutations.
“Understanding the bacteria that causes cholera, an acute diarrheal illness linked to infected water and foods, has global implications. The disease sickens up to 4 million people worldwide and severe cases can cause death within hours.”
– Science Daily
New Approach In Combating Antibiotic Drug Resistance
In another ground-breaking scientific first, researchers in Europe and North America are tackling the problem in a new way. The method involves targeting, not the bacteria itself, but the weapons the bacteria employs to infect and spread itself. This new treatment is focused on disarming the bacterial virulence. Lower doses of antibiotics are required via this new technique.
“The biggest problem with antimicrobial resistance is that it puts a massive strain on how useful current antibiotics are against bacteria. Between 1930 and 1950, it took bacteria an average of about 13 years to become resistant to antibiotics. Now that’s down to 1 to 2 years. Every year, over a million people die from drug-resistant bacteria strains, the researchers said. The consequences of bacterial resistance currently amount to over 50 billion euros in additional costs in the United States alone.”
– NL Times
This novel approach has shown itself to be effective against superbugs – those bacteria resistant to all antibiotics. Disarming the bacteria rather than wiping it out may bring many antimicrobial treatments back out of obsolescence. This would be a huge win for science and for humanity both economically and health-wise.
Peptides May Be The Solution In Fight Against Resistance
RMIT scientists Professor Charlotte Conn and Priscilla Cardoso, have developed a new type of antibiotic. In a bid to overcome the massive public health threat posed by antimicrobial resistance they have created Priscilicidin. It is a type of antimicrobial peptide, which are the natural defences against bacteria and viruses produced by all living organisms. This new antibiotic can be rapidly re-engineered in the fight against drug resistant bugs. Priscilicidin was derived via Indolicidin, which is an antibiotic present in the immune systems of cows.
“The team’s research, published in January 2023 in the Women in Nanoscience 2022 special issue of Frontiers in Chemistry, showed Priscilicidin was highly active against resistant microbial strains such as golden staph, E. coli bacteria and candida fungi. “Priscilicidin works by disturbing the membrane of the microbes, eventually killing the cell. “Attacking this outer layer makes it harder for the bacteria to evolve and resist treatment,” said Valéry. Lab tests showed Priscilicidin had a similar antimicrobial activity as Indolicidin on common bacterial and fungal infections.” “
The root of antibiotic resistance is now better understood to a far greater extent via these discoveries and research projects. There is a greater sense of hope for the future of humanity going forward. The drugs previously developed may not now be irrelevant in our battle to live in a world alongside an ever evolving bacterial empire. Adaptability is the name of the game for both the bacterial world and humanity. Biology is the most exciting new frontier in science in the twenty first century, in this observer’s view. There are plenty of challenges ahead, as we have discovered via the recent Covid public health global pandemic. If we can continue to expand our knowledge of the biological universe and be clever in how we approach problems such as antibacterial drug resistance, then we have more than a fighting chance of sticking around for some time to come.
Antibiotics are vital to so many medical procedures and health outcomes. Infectious diseases were a scourge of Grim Reaping proportions on a mass scale prior to the discovery and development of antimicrobials. Our future would be grim without them if the superbug resistance continued to grow exponentially. Surgery would be a much riskier proposition without effective antibiotics. Many of the amazing advancements we have made in medicine like organ transplants would become impossible. Therefore, these new approaches based on understanding the root of antibiotic resistance are incredibly important to our future and the future of modern medicine. We remain dependent upon human ingenuity and our never-ending search for scientific answers.
Davies J, Davies D. Origins and evolution of antibiotic resistance. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2010 Sep;74(3):417-33. doi: 10.1128/MMBR.00016-10. PMID: 20805405; PMCID: PMC2937522.
University of Central Florida. “Scientist uncovers roots of antibiotic resistance: By understanding how mutations occur, researchers can better understand and develop therapeutics to combat resistant infections.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 May 2023.
“Rational design of potent ultrashort antimicrobial peptides with programmable assembly into nanostructured hydrogels” is published in Frontiers in Chemistry (DOI: 10.3389/fchem.2022.1009468).
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