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Last line of antibiotics powerless against new resistant superbugs

 
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 40298483
Ireland
11/19/2015 04:09 AM
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Last line of antibiotics powerless against new resistant superbugs
Bacteria such as E.coli have mutated to be resistant to our last line of antibiotics and untreatable bugs may already be circulating, scientists have warned. Health experts have said for years that antibiotic resistance could send medicine back to the dark ages, with even the smallest infections proving lethal.

Currently, when all other drugs fail, doctors use polymyxins as a last resort to treat bacterial infections such as E.coli and those which cause pneumonia. But British scientists have discovered that pigs and meat sold in China are infected with bacteria carrying a new gene which makes them resistant to these rearguard antibiotics.

The MCR-1 gene is in a part of the DNA which can be easily copied and transferred between bacteria, leading experts to conclude that “pandemic resistance is inevitable”.

[link to www.independent.ie]
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 70837898
Finland
11/19/2015 04:25 AM
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Re: Last line of antibiotics powerless against new resistant superbugs
I'm a physicist and I've got friends in biomedicine/medical sciences. Some of them are involved in bleeding edge research for new anti-pathogen measures. I've had many a discussion with them about infectious diseases, outbreaks and antibiotics.

They have know for a long time that antibiotics are a dead end. Antibiotics only postpone the inevitable and they will be used as long as they work. There's no point in developing new antibiotics, because they're difficult to tailor for specific diseases and in the long run they make us even more vulnerable to infectious diseases.

The solution is to find a balance between us and the germs. Our environment and us are already full of bacteria. Some of that flora is actually benficial to us. If we didn't have a specific set of germs on our skin, we'd be overrun by fungal skin infections and we wouldn't be able to digest our food properly. We're living in symbiosis with these micro-organisms.

The future state-of-the-art methods for fighting harmful bacteria will be based on genetically engineered bacteria and viruses.

You get an infection, a sample is taken and the genes and structure are analysed. The harmful pathogen is then genetically engineered into a custom-made new version. The damage the harmful pathogens do is due to the chemical substances (biotoxins) they emit as a result of their natural metabolism. In the future, their metabolism is modified via genetic engineering so that they survive in the human body even better than the original version, but now they don't emit those harmful metabolic by-products anymore.

Since the new pathogen now survives in the human body and is actually better than the original harmful pathogen, there's no need for it to evolve further (which is why the bacteria become resistent to antibiotics). It will compete with and eventually overrun the harmful pathogen. It doesn't cause harm to a human anymore, because the metabolism has been changed. A peaceful co-existence follows.

So, instead of destroying bacteria, we need to find ways to live with them. That's the only way we can win.
Pooch

User ID: 68879988
Canada
11/19/2015 04:26 AM

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Re: Last line of antibiotics powerless against new resistant superbugs
bump
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 69909450
Mexico
11/19/2015 04:29 AM
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Re: Last line of antibiotics powerless against new resistant superbugs
As someone with pneumonia, on strong third line antibiotics right now, and allergic to 3 common classes....I'm worried.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 40298483
Ireland
11/19/2015 04:43 AM
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Re: Last line of antibiotics powerless against new resistant superbugs
I'm a physicist and I've got friends in biomedicine/medical sciences. Some of them are involved in bleeding edge research for new anti-pathogen measures. I've had many a discussion with them about infectious diseases, outbreaks and antibiotics.

They have know for a long time that antibiotics are a dead end. Antibiotics only postpone the inevitable and they will be used as long as they work. There's no point in developing new antibiotics, because they're difficult to tailor for specific diseases and in the long run they make us even more vulnerable to infectious diseases.

The solution is to find a balance between us and the germs. Our environment and us are already full of bacteria. Some of that flora is actually benficial to us. If we didn't have a specific set of germs on our skin, we'd be overrun by fungal skin infections and we wouldn't be able to digest our food properly. We're living in symbiosis with these micro-organisms.

The future state-of-the-art methods for fighting harmful bacteria will be based on genetically engineered bacteria and viruses.

You get an infection, a sample is taken and the genes and structure are analysed. The harmful pathogen is then genetically engineered into a custom-made new version. The damage the harmful pathogens do is due to the chemical substances (biotoxins) they emit as a result of their natural metabolism. In the future, their metabolism is modified via genetic engineering so that they survive in the human body even better than the original version, but now they don't emit those harmful metabolic by-products anymore.

Since the new pathogen now survives in the human body and is actually better than the original harmful pathogen, there's no need for it to evolve further (which is why the bacteria become resistent to antibiotics). It will compete with and eventually overrun the harmful pathogen. It doesn't cause harm to a human anymore, because the metabolism has been changed. A peaceful co-existence follows.

So, instead of destroying bacteria, we need to find ways to live with them. That's the only way we can win.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 70837898

What a great, informative post. Thanks. I know nothing about the subject, but it does appear to me that the latest progress in medicines all centre around genetics. While that's good, it's also worrying because not all scientists are nice! I wonder who'll win the race right now though? Will failed antibiotics result in a devastating pandemic before the new medical advances are made?

On the subject of germs, I live in a dilapidated old farmhouse surrounded by muddy paths and deal every day with piles of horse manure, have rats running round the feed room etc; in effect I'm in a germ-infested environment. Haven't been ill in decades, not even a cold.





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