Some things just don’t budge. Changes in organisms happen very slowly if ever. Ironically, our exceptional “real-time” example of biological evolution is one we don’t want to see. It’s called bacterial antibiotic resistance.
We tackled this topic a while ago here on ScienceBar, here’s a brief introduction if you’re unfamiliar with the development of such a phenomenon.
In a brilliant paper by Baquero et.al, this issue is given a public health perspective, outlining possible intervention strategies that would benefit the community.
To break down the problem, 3 stages of development were described, along with strategies to fight them:
1. Emergence. Most prevention strategies are focused on this stage, using antibiotics to kill off bacteria and prevent any resistance showing up –>Aim to decrease absolute number of resistant organisms, host and environmental colonization.
2. Invasion and increasing the frequency of organisms having resistance within a specific milieu–>Aim to decrease host to host and water/food to host transmission
3. Occupation, as best described when resistant colonies remain in someone’s body or hospital settings –>Aim to select FOR susceptible population and maintain their presence. Sort of having local thugs you can crash when needed, versus needing SWAT for terrorist cells.
This week’s news featured 2 stories that should help us better understand those stages.
Surprises About Antibiotic Resistance Uncovered Via ScienceDaily
“Recent findings revealed a complicated love story between antibiotic resistance and bacterial virulence. There was an ancient paradigm about the ‘fitness cost of antibiotic resistance,’ but the emergence of the new technologies of high-throughput sequencing has changed the field, allowing researchers to study bacterial pathogenesis at the genome scale,” said Dr. David Skurnik, senior author of a new Bioessays article. “This new, unbiased approached has revealed that unfortunately the worst case scenario of antibiotic resistant bacteria being more fit and virulent was not uncommon, particularly during infection.”
Addressing Antibiotic Resistance: Breath Analysis Aims to Reduce Unnecessary Prescriptions Via ScienceDaily
“To confirm whether patients have a bacterial infection of the respiratory tract, doctors currently have to take a number of different samples (blood and sputum), and even chest x-rays in the case of pneumonia,” explained Kejing Ying, who is coordinating the work and is based at the Zhejiang University School of Medicine.
Breathe in, breathe out
Analysing samples from 60 volunteers, the scientists have found a potentially useful link between the presence of exhaled acinetobacter baumannii derived volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and patients diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia.