Study: Reducing Antibiotic Use Not Enough To Reverse Resistance

Study: Reducing Antibiotic Use Not Enough To Reverse Resistance

5:00am Nov 22, 2017
A bottle of the antibiotic doxycycline hyclate. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

A new Duke University study shows that curbing antibiotic resistance might be more complicated than we thought. 

When a cell gains resistance to antibiotics, it comes at a cost; the cell might not be able to reproduce as easily.

So in theory, these cells and their resistance should eventually die off. But according to a Duke University study, that’s not what’s happening.

In fact, according to scientist Allison Lopatkin, these drug-resistant cells can share their superpower (resistance) pretty easily.

“We know that these antibiotic resistance genes, that they can spread laterally between bacteria, sort of just by knocking into one another. That’s one of the major ways these resistance genes have been able to spread and cause these global concerns.”

Lopatkin’s work shows that bacteria are swapping genes fast enough to maintain resistance. That means some commonly used drugs may not work forever.

The experiment also shows that there are drugs that may help reverse this resistance, but current antibiotic management plans likely won’t be enough.

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