20 January 2014

A world without antibiotics is a real threat

Humanity is threatened by the real risk of a future without antibiotics – a world in which life expectancy will rapidly decline due to mortality from diseases that are easily curable at the present time.

Specialists involved in tracking trends in the emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms believe that in the near future mutating bacteria, making the cure of infectious diseases more difficult and expensive, as well as increasing the risk of death of patients, will set back the level of development of medicine for many years. Some experts equate this threat to human well-being with global warming and terrorism. However, despite all the warnings, antibiotic resistance continues to grow and spread due to a completely preventable mechanism – improper use of antibacterial drugs.
Unsuitable drugs, too short courses of treatment, small doses or untimely discontinuation of intake – all this leads to the fact that some of the bacteria remain in the body. Moreover, at the same time, the "strongest" who are able to resist the action of an antibacterial drug survive. Against the background of normal bacterial flora weakened by antibiotic therapy, such resistant strains receive all the conditions for dominance and spread.

Antibiotic resistance occurs due to mutations in the genes of bacteria, leading to changes in the molecules of their surface membrane, which are targets for antibiotics. As a result, the bacterial wall becomes impervious to drugs or the microorganism acquires the ability to remove the antibiotic outside without harm to itself.

Thus, bacteria successfully adapt to changing living conditions in full accordance with Darwin's law under the evolutionary pressure created by man.

The main problem is the incorrect or inappropriate prescription of antibiotics by doctors, as well as the ease with which in some regions of the world they can be purchased without a prescription. About 70% of antibiotics are used to treat viral infections, against which they are completely ineffective.

Another important problem is that in many countries farmers add antibiotics to animal feed, which reduces their mortality and accelerates growth.

And the final links in this chain are the growth of travel activity at the global level, as well as a sharp decrease in the number of studies devoted to the development of new antibacterial drugs, due to a decrease in the financial interest of the pharmaceutical industry.

WHO experts believe that the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the near future may disarm humanity. In some regions, only carbapenem class antibiotics are effective today, but there is already evidence of the emergence of strains of microorganisms resistant to them.

Many infectious diseases become incurable and uncontrollable. Moreover, the lack of effective antibacterial drugs will make it impossible to get rid of opportunistic bacteria that do not cause diseases in healthy people, but pose a serious threat to seriously ill patients, as well as patients who have undergone serious surgical interventions, organ transplantation or antitumor therapy.

It is believed that since 1928, when Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, antibiotics have saved hundreds of millions of lives. However, Fleming's own warnings about the inevitable development of antibiotic resistance were ignored.

The only solution to the problem that has arisen is the proper use of antibacterial drugs, including through rapid diagnostics that allows you to distinguish bacterial infection from viral, stopping the addition of antibiotics to animal feed, as well as tightening hygiene measures in clinics to prevent the spread of resistant strains.

However, unfortunately, according to experts, the damage caused is already irreparable and at this stage we can only reduce the number and speed of the spread of resistant strains.

Evgeniya Ryabtseva
Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on Medical Xpress materials:
A world without antibiotics? The risk is real, experts say.


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