Reversing antibiotic resistance

October 25, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


Many of you may wonder why antibiotic
resistance is something you should worry about. I’ll give you four reasons why you should. First, antibiotic resistance is a worldwide problem. Currently twice as many people die from antibiotic resistant infections as HIV. And if this continues more people will die from antibiotic resistant infections than from cancer by the year 2050. Second, antibiotic resistance is expensive. The United States spends over twenty billion dollars annually in excess health care costs associated with antibiotic resistant infections. Third, antibiotics are the most common unnecessarily prescribed drug. In fact up to 50% of them are not even needed. And last antibiotics are not only given to humans but to livestock as well. And this is to promote growth and to prevent disease. But resistant bacteria can remain in the meat of these animals if it’s not cooked properly. So it’s no wonder why antibiotic resistance is such a big deal. So what can we do about this? Well, we can’t depend on the development of new antibiotics because bacteria have proven that they will become resistant to
anything that we throw in their path. There’s also this other idea of
antibiotic cycling, which is a lot like crop rotation in which hospitals will
rotate through antibiotics over time. For example, they’ll use antibiotic A for one month rotate two antibiotic B for one month, and back to antibiotic A. And the goal of antibiotic cycling is that resistance to each antibiotic will decrease over time. Previously hospitals have randomly selected the antibiotics in which they cycle and this has not been effective But what I have been able to show through my research is that antibiotic cycling still has potential if only we cycle through antibiotics that are structurally similar. And so what I’ve done is measured bacterial growth across multiple antibiotics and using these data with mathematical models I’ve identified treatment plants throughout 16 resistant strains of E coli. with a 60 to 100 percent probability of returning to wild-type, which is a more treatable type. So what this means is that we can use the antibiotics that we already have to push bacteria and reverse making the infections they cause more treatable. And this is the best part. In collaboration with dignity health in Merced and Anna Siegal at UC Berkeley, using my data we have shown that resistance to two antibiotics has significantly decreased since 2013. So, is there hope? Well, based on my results I definitely believe there is. And by using the antibiotics that we already have, we can work at reversing antibiotic resistance. Thank you.