Are antibiotics losing their effectiveness?

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria is on the rise creating numerous problems.

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Severe illness mostly has people running towards one cure – antibiotics. But is that right?

Antibiotic resistance seems to be becoming a rising problem in present times, since it affects everyday life. The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria have different results in lab tests and react in a different way in the human body.

This is because any time an antibiotic is used, the risk of developing resistance towards it increases. These resistant bacteria become problematic when an infection occurs and antibiotics that would have treated the infection are no longer effective.

Also Read: How antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be eliminated

The leading daily Times of India quoted Michael J Mahan, a professor of microbiology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who said, “We're saying the standard way the world does this is wrong”. That standard protocol, established in the 1960s, is called antibiotic susceptibility testing: Bacteria are grown in a solution called Mueller-Hinton broth, and then attacked with various antibiotics to see which one works best. 

Also Read: WHO cautions against indiscriminate use of antibiotics

The Times of India further reported that doctors around the world use the test to decide which antibiotic to use for which bacterial infection. But Mahan in August published an article in the journal EBioMedicine that shows blind spots in the protocol, which hasn't changed much since it was instituted as the gold standard across medical labs several decades ago. When his team tested salmonella in the petri dishes that labs typically use, an antibiotic called polymyxin killed the bacteria. But when they grew salmonella in petri dishes formulated with a material that more closely resembles the cells the bacteria infect, the antibiotic was useless. 

According to theconversation.com, a suggestion to tackle this problem has come from the World Health Organization who believes that surveillance of antimicrobial resistance, regulating antibiotic use in humans and animals, infection prevention and control, and research innovations are all needed to tackle the crisis.  

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