Antibiotic resistance: new discovery could change the future of treatment
Since their discovery in 1928, antibiotics have become a common way of treating infections caused by bacteria, fungi and other microbes. To treat an infection, a doctor usually prescribes a course of antibiotics (such as penicillin) for us to take. This drug is usually contained in a capsule then swallowed, where it dissolves in the stomach.
There, the antibiotic goes to work, destroying all bacteria in the stomach (including the good bacteria, which help our body function). The antibiotic is simultaneously absorbed into the bloodstream, where it is circulated around the body to target any infection present in other body sites, such as the throat or ears. Whether you have an ear or urinary tract infection, the gut is the first point of treatment for bacterial infections.
While antibiotics are helpful to us, a tendency to over-prescribe them is one of the reasons the world faces a crisis of treatment-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance already causes about 700, 000 deaths a year – and could cause 10 million deaths by 2050.
Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria acquire one or several genes that allow them to either ...