Posted on Jun 03, 2018, 2 p.m.
How bacteria are able to obtain nutrients needed to survive from antibiotics has been revealed, better understanding of the mechanisms behind this may enable development of new strategies for removing antibiotics from the environment.
Antibiotics are prescribed for numerous conditions of bacterial infections as well as to be used prophylactically before some major surgery or immune suspression, as they are a vast array of drugs which kill or prevent bacteria from multiplying. Antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed drugs in healthcare.
Though they play important roles overuse of antibiotics has led to many bacteria becoming resistant to them. New antibiotics have been developed, continual bacteria mutations make the need for more antibiotic strains to be developed to fight them. Large quantities of antibiotics are ending up in the environment and contaminating it via pharmaceutical waste and livestock feed, adding to increased risk of antibiotic resistance.
It has been observed that some antibiotic resistant bacteria ate the antibiotics which were designed to kill them. Mechanisms which enable bacteria to consume and even thrive were poorly understood, recent research elucidates some of the process.
It was observed that specific genes were expressed when bacteria were fed antibiotic that were not expressed on sugary diets, these genes enabled bacteria to neutralise toxic capacity of penicillin to proceed to digest the remainder of the molecules in studies of distantly related species of soil bacteria which readily lived on a penicillin diet.
With some smart engineering E.coli modifications could in theory be engineered to feed on antibiotics in the environment providing new contamination cleanup strategies for soil and waterways, which will help slow down rates of antibiotic resistance development that undermines the ability to treat bacterial infections.
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