Friday, October 24, 2014

The Future of Antibiotics

News Brief by Kanika Kamal

Today, antibiotic resistance is a growing issue. This phenomenon occurs when infection-causing bacteria adapt to the antibiotics we may take. This leads to untreatable bacterial infections that can range from a pesky, longer-than-normal illness, to a very dangerous and potentially lethal infection.

Fortunately, an exciting new breakthrough from the University of Bristol may bring us a step closer to defeating antibiotic resistance once and for all. Scientists found that bacteria have specific enzymes, called beta-lactamases, which they use to slice open and destroy antibiotics, thus giving them antibiotic resistance.  These scientists specifically studied how beta-lactamases react with carbapenems, a commonly used “last resort” antibiotic that many people take for superbugs, such as E. coli. After close observation, these scientists concluded that antibiotic resistance only occurs when beta-lactamases break down carbapenems very rapidly. If slow breakdown occurs, then the bacteria cannot fully destroy all of the antibiotics, and thus cannot survive. As a result, the scientists at the University of Bristol have now focused their efforts on figuring out how to slow down the breakdown of the antibiotics.

Though this is just the first step of many to countering antibiotic resistance, this finding is critical in understanding the exact mechanisms of how bacteria can counter the medicines we take to get rid of them. It is clear that the scientists at the University of Bristol have set the stage for many new exciting discoveries in antibiotic resistance. Only time will tell where their discoveries will lead modern pharmacology.

University of Bristol. "Scientific breakthrough will help design antibiotics of the future." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 October 2014. .

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