What if we told you that, according to WHO data, the main cause of death in the world in 2050 is, nowadays, an unknown phenomenon for the majority of the population? This phenomenon will turn diseases that can be currently treated with relative ease, into incurable and with an associated high probability of causing death. We are talking about bacterial resistance to antibiotics. What is it? How is it caused? Is there a remedy ?: Antibiotics, bacterial resistance, biotechnology … Let’s clarify concepts.
Antibiotics are substances produced by bacteria to kill other bacteria. This is part of a process that occurs in nature. In the same way that bacteria produce antibiotics, other bacteria naturally develop mechanisms to be resistant to these antibiotics, to avoid dying in the presence of an antibiotic.
Since Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, humans have learned to use antibiotics to heal from diseases caused by bacterial infections. But, the phenomenon we talked about before is taking place in the bacteria that cause us diseases. In other words, these bacteria have acquired resistance against the antibiotic that used to kill them.
The solution to this problem seems quite intuitive: “if one antibiotic does not work, we will use another one that will give us results.” But we have not yet explained ALL the problem.
Bacteria are capable of transferring their genetic material vertically (to their offspring) and horizontally (to the bacteria around them). Within the genetic material are the mechanisms of resistance to antibiotics. This means that bacteria can transmit resistance mechanisms between them.
Also, the different types of antibiotics are limited. In fact, there are less than 20 types and everything indicates that there are no more. Therefore, if we put together the facts that there are few antibiotics and that resistance mechanisms can be transmitted between bacteria vertically and horizontally, we find that now there are so-called SUPERBUGS.
Superbugs are bacteria resistant to all or almost all antibiotics. That means that for an infection caused by a superbug right now we have no cure. Antibiotics would no longer work.
The incidence of superbugs is increasing. Currently, they cause tens of thousands of deaths a year. And it is predicted that from now until 2050 the number of premature deaths from superbugs is 300 million people (the main cause of death in the world). How is it possible that the majority of society is still unaware of this problem?
How did we get to this point? We have two main causes. On the one hand, there is the abusive use of antibiotics. In the clinical setting, where antibiotics are used when it is not certain that it is the most appropriate solution. And in intensive livestock farming, there is a misuse of antibiotics, where they are used preventively and to accelerate the growth of animals. The other cause that is accelerating and aggravating this problem is climate change. Higher and higher temperatures cause super-resistant bacteria to reproduce and spread much faster than before.
Does this problem have a solution? This is a difficult question to answer. Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is already happening, and it is going to be more and more widespread without us being able to do much to prevent it. We have to look for alternative ways to fight bacterial infections other than antibiotics. And as in so many other areas, the solution is in biotechnology.
There are 2 tracks that are ringing out loud. On the one hand, there is vaccination. This involves creating vaccines that allow our body to build immunity against superbugs. On the other hand, there is phage therapy, which consists on the use of viruses to eliminate the bacteria that cause the infection.
At Klinea we are aware of this problem. And we want to use our experience in the design of vaccine production plants and in biological therapies to combat this great problem and to be able to contribute our grain of sand to the solution.
And the other big question: what can I do as an individual in this situation? Addressing antibiotic resistance is also everyone’s responsibility. You can:
- Publicize the problem. There is still many people unaware of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. The more people aware, the more public pressure there will be to invest in solutions
- Do not self-medicate with antibiotics. Take antibiotics only when your doctor prescribes them, and follow the prescription in detail (no more, no fewer days than what health professionals tell you)
- Reduce / eliminate the consumption of food from intensive livestock. As we have said, the use of antibiotics for animal husbandry is the main cause of the rapid spread of antibiotics
- Maintain proper hygiene
- Get vaccinated. Vaccines are the best method we have to avoid infectious diseases, do not reject them
Now you know what bacterial resistance to antibiotics is. Let’s make as many people as possible aware of this problem!
- Posted by Klinea
- On 19 August, 2020
- 0 Comments