Engineering News Blog

Engineering News

Latest news of interest to engineers. Sourced from GlobalSpec's Engineering News

Previous in Blog: The Challenges of Building the Hubble Telescope’s Replacement   Next in Blog: Gigabot is a Huge Consumer 3D Printer Awaiting Your Kickstarter Dollars
Close
Close
Close
13 comments

Why Are Bacteria Becoming Increasingly More Resistant To Antibiotics?

Posted March 10, 2013 5:44 PM

From Science 2.0:

A University of Granada researcher has a new hypothesis concerning why bacteria seem to becoming increasingly more resistant to antibiotics.

Bacteria are incredibly versatile - they have been found in some of the most extreme conditions on the planet, and it may be just evolution in action. In this instance, Mohammed Bakkali, a scientist in the Genetics Department at the Faculty of Science of the UGR,
believes that bacteria that are non-resistant to antibiotics acquire resistance 'accidentally' because they take up the DNA of others that are resistant, due to the stress to which they are subjected.

Like anything else, too much of a good thing can be bad and overuse and misuse of antibiotics has exacerbated resistance problems. Whereas we mistakenly banned the use of DDT due to misuse, antibiotics are not going away, so researchers have spent decades examining when, how and why bacteria take up DNA from other antibiotic-resistant bacteria, thus becoming resistant. The answers as to when there is DNA uptake (in unfavorable or stressful circumstances) and as to how the bacteria take it up are clear, but, up until now, "nobody has pinpointed the reason why bacteria ingest this genetic material" Bakkali notes.

Read the whole article

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Guru
Engineering Fields - Instrumentation Engineering - New Member Hobbies - Automotive Performance - New Member Technical Fields - Education - New Member Fans of Old Computers - TRS-80 - New Member Hobbies - Musician - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 1331
Good Answers: 30
#1

Re: Why Are Bacteria Becoming Increasingly More Resistant To Antibiotics?

03/10/2013 5:51 PM

...uh, because Bacteria have more & longer experience playing the "evolution game" than we mortal sapiens have?

__________________
...and the Devil said: "...yes, but it's a DRY heat..!"
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 30958
Good Answers: 1727
#2

Re: Why Are Bacteria Becoming Increasingly More Resistant To Antibiotics?

03/10/2013 6:35 PM

We have created a false reality for bacteria where survival is more difficult than what would be normal for them...as a result we are creating superbugs, both by challenging their existence with antibiotics, and manipulating their genetic code intentionally, as in designer bugs,and unintentionally through the production of unnatural balances of chemical composites and man made substances....Bacteria are the foundation of life..we rely on them for our existence, without them we would die miserably....They are responsible for generating the oxygen that has allowed humans to evolve from invertebrate slithering slime....They mutate and evolve quicker than humans....The answer is to take a more intelligent approach to controlling these creatures....If we don't succeed get ready for a new kind of epidemic...

"The CDC has dubbed it the newest super bug. It's called CRE, short for carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceaea; a bacteria immune to virtually all antibiotics and popping up in hospitals nation-wide."

http://www.wset.com/story/21559068/centra-officials-address-new-superbug

http://nursing-home-abuse-lawyer-in-virginia.com/91/

http://www.medpagetoday.com/HospitalBasedMedicine/InfectionControl/37375

https://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-problems-with-antibiotics-possible-alternatives-and-damage-control/

http://www.cell.com/trends/microbiology/abstract/S0966-842X(12)00199-0

http://learningenglish.voanews.com/content/designing-antibiotic-alternatives/1475508.html

http://www.nature.com/nrmicro/journal/v11/n2/abs/nrmicro2937.html

__________________
Break a sweat everyday doing something you enjoy
Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Netherlands - Member - New Member Fans of Old Computers - Commodore 64 - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Japan
Posts: 2703
Good Answers: 38
#3

Re: Why Are Bacteria Becoming Increasingly More Resistant To Antibiotics?

03/10/2013 9:47 PM

Woaw, maybe 50 years of overusing antibiotics is the problem?

__________________
From the Movie "The Big Lebowski" Don't pee on the carpet man!
Reply
Guru
United Kingdom - Member - Indeterminate Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: In the bothy, 7 chains down the line from Dodman's Lane level crossing, in the nation formerly known as Great Britain. Kettle's on.
Posts: 30314
Good Answers: 817
#4

Re: Why Are Bacteria Becoming Increasingly More Resistant To Antibiotics?

03/11/2013 7:29 AM

Er, because life adapts to its new environment (antibiotic bombardment) to survive within it?

__________________
"Did you get my e-mail?" - "The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place" - George Bernard Shaw, 1856
Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member United Kingdom - Member - New Member

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Harlow England
Posts: 16498
Good Answers: 661
#5

Re: Why Are Bacteria Becoming Increasingly More Resistant To Antibiotics?

03/11/2013 11:50 AM

Ask a creationist...
No... on second thoughts please don't.

Del
(baaaad kitty scampers away to hide in secret cat nest)

__________________
health warning: These posts may contain traces of nut.
Reply Off Topic (Score 3)
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: About 4000 miles from the center of the earth (+/-100 mi)
Posts: 9046
Good Answers: 1031
#6

Re: Why Are Bacteria Becoming Increasingly More Resistant To Antibiotics?

03/12/2013 8:45 AM

I cringe every time I see the ad claiming that an antibacterial soap kills 99.9% of bacteria. That gives the 0.1% that are too tough to kill room to grow. If they divide every 20 minutes, it only takes a day and a half to increase a thousand fold.

Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member United Kingdom - Member - New Member

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Harlow England
Posts: 16498
Good Answers: 661
#7
In reply to #6

Re: Why Are Bacteria Becoming Increasingly More Resistant To Antibiotics?

03/12/2013 9:50 AM

Anyhow, they only kill anything with about 20minutes contact time.
All these things do is con gullible, paranoid, risk averse people who'd be better off following simple sensible hygeine practice into parting with cash for unecessary products.

Make 'em eat grass if they feel unwell... works for me (cough retch)
Del

__________________
health warning: These posts may contain traces of nut.
Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 259
Good Answers: 6
#8

Re: Why Are Bacteria Becoming Increasingly More Resistant To Antibiotics?

03/12/2013 10:18 AM

An interesting point my brother made had to deal with prescribed antibiotics. He said the worst thing you could do is not finish the entire prescription because that may leave some resistant bacteria alive.

Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 104
Good Answers: 3
#9

Re: Why Are Bacteria Becoming Increasingly More Resistant To Antibiotics?

03/12/2013 10:39 AM

perhaps a more effective way to deal with increasing bacterial resistance is to increase the complexity of our own bacterial ecosystems...more complex yougurt for all of us perhaps may help reduce infections in the first place..My alma mater,university of guelph,is raising complex fecal bacteria in a controlled and repeatable laboratory setting and sending the resultant mass to the field to treat people with problamatic intestinal flora...Complexity is a key ingredient i suspect from my armchair view. An old ecological tenant from the early 1970's stated more or less that in biological systems increased complexity leads to increased stability of that particular biological system (boundaries extending beyond the individual to include all life forms contacted in a particular lifecycle or population cycle or whatever boundary parameters are applied..)

Reply
Guru
United States - Member - Born, raised halfway 'round .....

Join Date: May 2010
Location: Speedway.....
Posts: 1130
Good Answers: 24
#10

Re: Why Are Bacteria Becoming Increasingly More Resistant To Antibiotics?

03/12/2013 10:42 AM

It goes true to just about 'anything' being exposed to 'something' on a too frequent or too often basis, eventually will result into what is known as the "normalized state". The different interactions among things especially on the molecular levels, such as in drugs, DNA, etc., brought about through and by constant exposures over certain period of time will eventually ceased once adaptation and or acclimation is achieved! I would say everything, (chemically, physically, anatomically, etc.) goes through this process of evolution triggered by a factor known as 'exposure over time'.

__________________
vsar
Reply
Guru
Hobbies - Musician - New Member

Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 523
Good Answers: 17
#11

Re: Why Are Bacteria Becoming Increasingly More Resistant To Antibiotics?

03/12/2013 1:30 PM

Back when I was in High School, late 60's, I got to see a presentation from a DuPont chemist working at a nearby plant. One of the interesting things he showed us was one way they removed chemicals from the waste stream before they discharged it into the river. Tubes of glass beads. The way he explained it, they would take dirt from outside the plant and put it into the tube. This was a source of bacteria. Then they started water flowing through the tube with a small concentration of the chemical they wanted removed. Over time, they increased the concentration of the chemical and let natural selection find them bacteria which would metabolize the chemical and give them an acceptable waste in return. (Kinda like removing nasty old carbs and getting alcohol)

Is this a standard Chemical Engineering practice? Or am I totally misremembering my youth?

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 574
Good Answers: 5
#12

Re: Why Are Bacteria Becoming Increasingly More Resistant To Antibiotics?

03/12/2013 2:57 PM

The article is vague and lacks details, as these "news" articles tend to be. I don't have time to read it right now, but the full article by Mr. Bakkali is here. There is much more to get our teeth into, in the original article, for a discussion. We may not understand all the info. that is given, but I think we'll have a better sense of what is meant by "stress" and possibly the chemical pathway considered the "response" to that stress. The posted article says the mechanism is well understood. (The answers as to when there is DNA uptake (in unfavorable or stressful circumstances) and as to how the bacteria take it up are clear, but, up until now, "nobody has pinpointed the reason why bacteria ingest this genetic material" Bakkali notes.) Which begs the question, "If we have known the how, but not the why, wasn't the attempt to control it a bit blind?" The same short-sightedness accompanies genetic engineering, and our, superficial consideration of our response to all man-made chemicals, in food supply, as well as environment, as far as I'm concerned.

I think we all recognize that nature is a tug of war between many species -- at the macro level, in limited numbers; i.e. the number of predators of rabbits in any one geographical area is limited to certain predators prevalent in that area. Some species, like lions have practically no species threatening predators. And the reproductive rates are such that rabbits would not be threatened, solely, by predator numbers. And flies, as a species, should have no fear of lions. Environmental factors are the lion's, rabbits, and most species, most feared threat to their existence -- man, being the most dangerous of all, in that regard, and dangerous to more species, at any one time, than any other.

I think the current status indicates the presumption of past scientific thinking to be flawed, long-term. It has been assumed that, the discovery of antibiotic action could be replicated across the bacterial spectrum, successfully, to the eradication of any one type of organism. Nature has proven this to be a weak presumption since bacteria adapt to this action, called "stress" in the article. This "stress" mentioned is detected how? An interruption of the processes within a given organism that conflict with them? If so, how does any man-made attempt at killing such organisms not register as "stressful" to the organism, thereby increasing the chance of adapting to the stress?

So the tug of war continues in the case of man and the pathogens that invade and attack the body. We aren't defenseless. The body also has mechanisms to adapt as well. Even when vast numbers of people lose their lives in epidemics, the survivors are similar to the bacteria that survive antibiotics. And epigenetics implies that the immunological knowledge gained is likely incorporated into future DNA expression, just as much as famine is.

With our current knowledge it is still quite arrogant to think we can control nature well enough to avoid such catastrophes. On the contrary, the "super bugs" as mentioned by SE, are much feared by the medical and scientific communities. It reminds me of the original version of the movie, "The Andromeda Strain." Since evolving "bugs," by definition, make their presence known through widespread infection and/or mortality, the damage is likely to be done before the mechanism that allows it to override the current protection schemes, is understood and acted upon. Containment, at that point, is the best, intermediate, weapon to limit damage.

As I have mentioned before, I think it is just as likely for us to have success with future adapting pathogens by making sure our immune system, and other bodily systems, are in optimal working order and then let the chips fall where they may. We will, almost certainly, never anticipate the precise mechanism of adaptation of any new strains of bacteria or viruses. New flu viruses arise, via some mechanism. They aren't considered "living," yet they do change. Or, at least, unknown types/variations arise. Still, it may be prudent to "train" or retrain our immune system to the major, known, viruses via vaccination since these strains don't go away; especially if a "key" factor is added (or missing) as mentioned in the following paragraph. As this CDC article explains, it depends on several factors. As long as one's immune system is not optimally supported -- especially then -- and/or working optimally, these measures can't be ignored. An immune system that is most responsive will benefit the most from vaccines.

I have concluded, so far, that the taking of ascorbic acid, in "proper" supplemental doses, is a key ingredient in health and immune status. (The dosage in the referenced trials were still nowhere close to those recommended by proponents of "large" [defined as such, incorrectly] doses, such as Irwin Stone and Linus Pauling, as well as current adherents to those protocols.)

Nothing will prevent our eventual death, but this line of defense, is the more "natural" one, whereby nature takes it's course. Let each adaptive system follow it's course. Bugs that can wreak epidemic havoc will arise, no matter what. Up until now, we have never had a large enough population taking multi-gram level doses of ascorbic acid on a preventative basis, to compare that to the effectiveness of man-made pharmaceuticals in our effort to stem the tide of devastation and suffering that has occurred in the past.

My view is based on the fact that the body does have mechanisms to "learn" to deal with new pathogens. Antibiotics are static, based on current and past invaders, not new ones. All attempts represent "stress" to these organisms. The response time of our immune system, to variant pathogens, is, to me, vastly superior to creating a new man-made pharmaceutical. And there is enticing evidence that ascorbic acid addresses the "resulting" potential damage of pathogens, which may not be as changeable by the pathogens. The damage these resulting processes do (for "bad" bacteria, the damage is mostly from the toxins released by them -- correct me if I am wrong), may ultimately, be limited to certain process pathways, based on carbon life-form processes. Toxins are like thrown rocks. If you can block the thrown rocks, it is likely not to be recognized as a stress to the pathogen. It is more like the eliminative process. It becomes a separate process from the internal processes; a by-product.

Scientists and researchers probably still hold out the hope of a Holy Grail, man-made pharmaceutical, cure-all, for "types" of pathogens, such as bacteria. Our, seemingly, hopeful track record is becoming tarnished. To me, ascorbic acid shows more hope regarding broad spectrum improvement in response to infectious diseases. In the end, I just don't think we will defeat nature. The tug of war is never ending, I think. Adaptation almost guarantees it.

Is it possible that widespread use of ascorbic acid, even, might also lead to a super, super bug? Who knows? I guess anything is possible. I still think it the better and more prudent course. After all, its synthesis and utilization appears in many species, both plant and animal. Based on our size we are closer to the threshold of scurvy, than we imagine, in my opinion. And almost certainly not at an optimum level. Our current diet just doesn't supply enough. From my reading about the Pauling Therapy for heart disease and its preceding explanation (Lp(a)), sub-optimal levels of ascorbic acid is highly implicated in why we develop heart disease in a degenerative fashion.

Questions arise. "Why does individual life not go on forever -- even at cellular levels?" "Why is competition such a prevalent mechanism in Nature?" "Why should survival, as a force, even exist?" There are symbiotic relationships in Nature. And other successful mechanisms, too. Ant "society" is a good example of success via cooperation and coordination. The cells of our organs are cooperative and coordinated. "How did the mechanism of cooperation arise and lead to us?" As a process of life, we represent a very complex study in cooperation and coordination of Nature's sub-processes.

Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 104
Good Answers: 3
#13
In reply to #11

Re: Why Are Bacteria Becoming Increasingly More Resistant To Antibiotics?

03/12/2013 3:11 PM

we did similar microbiologicalchemistry at a plant i worked at for sometime as a chemist..in this case it was soil contamination..A serious engineering firm offerred a $500 K solution to a problem..I offered a much less costly solution although not versed in the business of site-cleanup..We tried my method for a while with reasonable success..The engineering firm eventually got the rest of the work but at $5o K range as they realized the folly of monetary extraction based on status alone was no longer acceptable..in this situation.

Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 13 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

70AARCuda (1); Del the cat (2); Envelope Guy (1); Epke (1); martywolf (2); Passerby (1); PWSlack (1); reward54 (1); Rixter (1); SolarEagle (1); vsar (1)

Previous in Blog: The Challenges of Building the Hubble Telescope’s Replacement   Next in Blog: Gigabot is a Huge Consumer 3D Printer Awaiting Your Kickstarter Dollars

Advertisement