“Sleeping” Bacteria May Be Responsible for Antibiotic Resistance
Antibiotics are so commonly used to treat infections that it’s hard to imagine that someday they may not work for you.
However, as the threat of antibiotic resistance grows, this could become a very real possibility. And the World Health Organization isn’t holding back any punches when it comes to expressing their concerns about it.
In a 2014 Global Surveillance Report on antimicrobial resistance, the WHO clearly states: “A post-antibiotic era — in which common infections and minor injuries can kill — far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st century.”
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And while it’s true that some new antibiotics are in development, none of them are expected to be effective against the most dangerous forms of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
This makes gaining an understanding of exactly how antibiotic resistance works a chief priority among scientists.
“Sleeper Cells” Survive Antibiotic Treatment
A new study published in BMC Biology may lay the groundwork for understanding why some bacteria survive antibiotic treatment. With this knowledge in hand, we may be one step closer to develop new ways to target them.
After dosing bacteria with ampicillin, a team of Exeter University researchers discovered two types of cells that survived antibiotic treatment. Some of them were identified as “persister cells,” which quickly start growing again after a course of antibiotics ends.
However, the vast majority of surviving cells were alive, but not growing. They looked like they had been killed by the antibiotic. But they weren’t dead. They simply became inactive, as if they were asleep. The team dubbed these “sleeper cells.” And they have the dangerous ability to “wake up” and cause re-infection.
This is a problem, because any cells that survive antibiotic treatment not only trigger a relapse of infection, they also contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance.
Study author Dr Stefano Pagliara notes that: “Unlike persister cells which quickly resume growth after the antibiotic course ends, ‘sleeper cells’ remain non-growing for prolonged periods of time, and elude detection using traditional methods.”
“Our research should make it easier to develop biomarkers to isolate these cells and open up new ways to map the biochemical makeup of bacteria that can escape antibiotics, so we can find ways of targeting them effectively.”
How You Can Help Stop the Spread of Antibiotic-Resistant Disease
Antibiotic-resistance is real health threat. As such, it’s important that all of us embrace strategies that lower our own chances of developing resistance while also reducing the spread of resistance. You can do your part by following these simple recommendations:
- Only use antibiotics when absolutely necessary. Remember that antibiotics fight bacteria, not viruses. This means they are ineffective when it comes to fighting colds, the flu, bronchitis, most coughs and many types of sore throat.
- Complete the full course of the drug. If you stop the treatment too soon, you may not kill off all the bacteria. This means you could end up getting sick again. It can also make the bacteria become resistant to the antibiotic that you’ve taken.
- Avoid antibacterial soaps, cleansers, wipes and cleaning products. They promote antibiotic resistance. For natural alternatives, check out our article 5 Worst Chemicals in Your Cleaning Products (and the Safe Alternatives to Use Instead).
- Wash hands regularly with soap and warm water to prevent the spread of bacteria.
Antimicrobial Resistance Global Report On Surveillance 2014. World Health Organization. 2014.
Antibiotic resistance: ‘sleeping’ bacteria that can survive drug treatment identified. News Release. University of Exeter. Dec 2017.
Dana Nicholas is a freelance writer and researcher in the field of natural and alternative healing. She has over 20 years of experience working with many noted health authors and anti-aging professionals, including James Balch, M.D., Dr. Linda Page, “Amazon” John Easterling and Al Sears M.D. Dana’s goal is to keep you up-to-date on information, news and breakthroughs that can have a direct impact on your health, your quality of life… and your lifespan. “I’m absolutely convinced that America’s misguided trust in mainstream medicine – including reliance on the government to regulate our food and medicine supply – is killing us, slowly but surely,” she cautions. “By sharing what I’ve learned throughout the years I hope I can empower others to take control over their own health.”