Antibiotic Resistance Study: How Disease-Causing Bacteria Evolves Into Superbugs

Unwittingly, people have a role to play in terms of the evolution whereby microbes that may cause bacterial infection undergo mutation and transform into superbugs capable of antibiotic resistance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that those people who overuse and misuse antibiotics are also at fault not just in the development, but also in the proliferation of superbugs. And now, it has already come to a point where we have created our own scourge that poses great risks to public health in a global scale.

The question on whether the use of antibiotics be reduced in the fight against superbugs with antibiotic resistance arises.

A great number, if not all, of the human population is under threat. And, health experts around the world underscore the importance of understanding this evolutionary process of antibiotic resistance as they scurry to find ways on how to defeat these superbugs.

Researchers Found A Remarkable Discovery In The Superbug Evolution

The latest findings, published on February 9 in the journal Science, reveal that bacteria mutate into superbugs with antibiotic resistance at a faster rate after they develop some form of tolerance against drug exposure by “sleeping” or going into a dormant state.

According to the study from a team of researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, these bacteria were able to tolerate exposure when they undergo this sleep mode. And, after arming themselves with this dormancy mechanism (tolerance), they can now transform into superbugs in an evolutionary process that is 20 times faster than usual. This is the point when the effects of antibiotics on them are rendered futile (resistance), noted.

The researchers used in vitro evolution trials in order to find out the correlation between the tolerance and the ensuing resistance capabilities of these eventual superbugs. They created a controlled environment wherein the bacteria were allowed to evolve under treatment of antibiotics. It was then shown via a mathematical population genetics model that tolerance can indeed speed up antibiotic resistance. The results of this research can have a vital role on how health experts can develop new ways to deal with these superbugs.

New Approach To Kill Superbugs

Meanwhile, a group of students from the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George located in western Canada is taking a different path when it comes to killing superbugs, CBC News reports.

A group of students from Canada finds new ways to kill superbugs with antibiotic resistance.

The team is dealing with a particular type of superbug with antibiotic resistance called Methicillin-resistant staph aureus (MSRA), and they aim to test a new approach in hopes of obliterating these superbugs that have been wreaking havoc in many hospitals in North America.

Brendan Reiter, one of the leaders of the biology club, said that they recognize the fact that antibiotic resistance capability can spread from one bacterium to another, resulting in the growth in numbers of these superbugs. And, they are going to utilize this idea in their novel approach to deal with the enemy.

“We’re going to use the same mechanism that they use to become resistant to the antibiotics but instead we’re going to try and kill them,” he said. “What we’re going to try and do is put a gene into these bacteria that when it’s transferred will kill them instead of making them resistant.”

How Antibiotic Resistance Poses Global Threat To Public Health

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the dilemma created by the superbugs includes the inability to treat infectious diseases and other illnesses like TB, HIV, and malaria, plus not to mention the possible spread of infection.

In turn, medical procedures like major surgeries, organ transplant, cancer chemotherapy, and diabetes management also become a very high risk. The antibiotic resistance of superbugs also results in higher health care expenditures both from the patients and the government because of the longer duration and more expensive kind of treatments.

[Featured Image By Wipas Rojjanakard/Shutterstock]