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Can antibiotic research win against resistant bacteria and germs?

Antibiotics are a blessing. This is true, because without them, tens of diseases, injuries and infections could not have been treated in the past, which would have ended in amputations or the death of the sick person. Antibiotics are a curse. From today’s perspective, this wonderful tool has the “side effect” that some bacteria and germs have adapted so perfectly to antibiotics that they happily continue to do their thing. Most people have certainly heard of “hospital germs”. They are quite unimpressed by antibiotics. But where do these resistant germs come from, and does research stand a chance of putting a stop to them? This article takes a look.

How does resistance come about?

Research antibiotics and resistant bacteria

Thanks to good results, antibiotics have become a headache tablet over time. Many physicians readily resorted to them, but without carefully examining the cause of an infection. A good example is the flu, which often masks nothing more than a cold. If the patient now takes antibiotics, they are not effective against viruses, but bacteria in turn have a chance to adjust to the antibiotic. Since many people rarely continue to take the tablets when they are feeling better, residual bacteria remain – these can now form resistances. So generally there are several reasons that resistance develops:

– Incorrect prescribing – actually, every flu patient should be swabbed to find out if the doctor is dealing with viruses or bacteria. This is often omitted. Other incorrect prescriptions can also be attributed to the lack of a swab, as people like to use broad-spectrum antibiotics instead of taking a preparation that is specifically intended for individual bacteria.

Incorrect prescription or ingestion as reasons for the emergence of antibiotic resistance

– Incorrect intake – certainly the incorrect prescription is also a contributory cause here: Antibiotics must be taken over a long period of time to prevent bacteria and germs from lingering. So if you feel well, you have to keep taking the pills. An example is the tick bite with redness: Experts advise in the case of a suspected Lyme disease infection first to classify, then to three weeks of antibiotics, which is effective precisely against this form of Borrelia. In practice, people always fall back on a broad-spectrum preparation without classification and rely on taking it for ten days.

– Factory farming – in order to maintain meat production, factory farming is common. However, antibiotics must be fed to the animals to prevent diseases from breaking out on the farm. Since there are hardly any germs or bacteria that are limited to a single mammalian species, humans also suffer from the resistance that develops on the fattening farm. At the same time, there is the side effect that residues of antibiotics are repeatedly found in meat.

Residues of antibiotics are repeatedly found in chicken

Ultimately, then, the overavailability of antibiotics is the big problem. Germs and bacteria can adapt too easily and form resistances. So the use of antibiotics would have to be significantly reconsidered, which would include basic points:

– Classification – before any use of antibiotics, it would have to be clarified in the laboratory which germs and bacteria are involved. Only after this result would a preparation be allowed to be used.
– Broad-spectrum – it would have to be used less frequently, so that only targeted action is taken against the very bacteria that are causing the problem in that person at that moment.
– Animal husbandry – it would have to be changed significantly, so that animals no longer have to be given antibiotics as a preventive measure due to the enormous mass on small ground.
– Intake – here everyone is asked for himself and can help. Is it necessary that the sniffles are treated with antibiotics or wouldn’t three days of prolonged sniffling make more sense? Why is a medication discontinued when one is feeling better, but the instructions prescribe a longer period for taking it?

Overview of common antibiotics

Overview of common antibiotics

What antibiotics are actually available? An overview of some variants:

– Azithromycin – the drug works for bacterial infections , by interfering with the protein formation of the bacterium. This antibiotic is used for venereal diseases, sinusitis and gastrointestinal infections. Within the last few years, an increase in resistance of between 5 and 15 percent has been seen in Europe.

– Cefixime – this is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that is predominantly used for inflammations in the respiratory and auditory tract. There is little resistance around gonococci, so the drug is again used for gonorrhea.

– Dalacin C – the remedy is used for bacteria and parasites. Applications include joint infections, malaria, bacterial vaginosis and pneumonia.

– Clindasol – this preparation is also effective against various bacteria and parasites. Skin infections, trichomonas, soft tissue infections are treated with it. The drug has only limited effect on germs that are resistant to methilicin.

What about research?

Research is being conducted worldwide into the emergence of resistance

Research is being conducted worldwide into the development of resistance and, of course, into ways to stop or reverse it. A European project called ENABLE has made considerable progress since 2014 and has had successes to show for the past year.

The project consists of numerous partners from research and industry. Together, they are researching new drugs that, project-wise, are particularly helpful against E.coli. The researchers identified five lead structures that practically represent the prototype of an active ingredient.

In addition to this project, there are research groups around the world working on other types of resistance and germs . However, research results are one thing, practice is another. Drugs have to go through numerous phases from the laboratory before they are actually approved.

Conclusion – watch out for antibiotics

Taking antibiotics has many side effects

One step against resistance can be taken by everyone: It should be asked before an appropriate intake, whether this is the right way or whether there are other solutions. This may sound harsh and is certainly not appropriate for bite wounds or severe infections. But if you can get through the mere common cold without pills, you will protect yourself in the event of a major infection. Nevertheless, research is naturally very interested in solutions that also address hospital germs. Infections with these are serious and protracted for sufferers, and not infrequently lead to death. It is therefore important that a solution or other preparations are found.