As soon as pharmacists develop an antibiotic, the bacteria it's aimed at begin developing resistance almost immediately. Now, a new study has shown an even more extreme comeback: some bacteria are literally eating our most potent antibiotics for breakfast.
"Many bacteria in many different soil isolates can not only tolerate antibiotics, they can actually live on them as their sole source of nutrition," said Harvard geneticist George Church.
In the study, Church and his colleagues at Harvard Medical School have confirmed that bacteria are very quick at developing resistance to antibiotics, and drug companies are up against a formidable foe as they must constantly produce new antibiotics to temporarily defeat them.
The researchers found several species of bacteria in soil samples on farms that could withstand antibiotics that were 50 times stronger than the standard for bacterial resistance. Some of the bacteria were resistant to powerful antibiotics such as penicillin and ciprofloxacin, two drugs which are used to treat pneumonia, meningitis, strep throat, urinary tract infections, STDs and many other infections.
The bacteria investigated in the study are not known to attack humans, but some are closely related to those that cause cystic fibrosis (Burkholderia cepacia) and blood infections (Serratia marcescens).
Generally, overuse and misuse of antibiotics enable bacteria to develop drug resistance. Most recently, antibiotic-resistant Staph infections are infecting and killing thousands of patients in hospitals. But, as the researchers explain, the bacteria they found here might even be using a new way to develop resistance, which they plan to investigate further.
via: News Daily