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Science & Technology

Are we facing an 'antibiotic apocalypse' ?

November 20, 2015 | Comment icon 13 comments



Bacteria is becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Michelle Tribe
Scientists have revealed that superbugs have now become resistant to even our last-resort antibiotics.
Antibiotic resistance has become a serious issue over the last few years with excessive misuse of these common drugs leading to strains of bacteria that are completely immune to them.

Now British scientists have revealed that an even deadlier strain, one that is resistant even to polymyxins - a drug typically used as a last resort - has been discovered in China and that it has already spread to Malaysia and possibly even further than that.

Health authorities have warned that this worrying trend could eventually lead to a future in which previously treatable conditions become deadly and in which everything from child birth to routine surgical procedures will come with the risk of dying from an incurable infection.

Even now over 50,000 people in the US and Europe die from antibiotic resistant infections every year and this figure could rise to over 10 million by the year 2050 if nothing is done.
Despite the grim outlook however there are ways that we can tackle this growing problem.

Scientists in several countries for instance have been working to develop new types of antibiotics and earlier this year Teixobactin, the first new antibiotic to be discovered in the last three decades, was announced by researchers at the Northeastern University in Boston.

There have also been efforts to develop new ways of tackling drug resistant bacteria without the need for drugs at all such as through gene-editing or by engineering beneficial viruses.

With any luck it may be possible to avert the 'antibiotic apocalypse' before it has even begun.

Source: Telegraph | Comments (13)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by TheGreatBeliever 7 years ago
Nanobots to the rescue!
Comment icon #5 Posted by Infernal Gnu 7 years ago
Every fertile person on the planet needs to start making babies like crazy so we can stay ahead of these damn killer bugs.
Comment icon #6 Posted by aquatus1 7 years ago
Antibiotics are certainly a fantastic discovery, but let's not assume they are the ultimate in medical research. They are basically just GMO'd existing biologics. They will be made better, but frankly, they will also likely be replaced, probably by nanobots. Biology takes generations to advance and relies on random innovations. Computer tech advances ridiculously fast, robotics is zooming up right next to it, and miniaturization has always been a goal. Nanobots that can physically destroy a virus or a bacteria will serve as both vaccinations and cures. As long as we can avoid the gray ooze pro... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by Mikko-kun 7 years ago
Tech is one thing, nature's evolution another. Human understanding of how the world works is one thing, how the world actually works is another. Keeping this in mind, you will never convince me that we're safe. Especially if you take a stance that gives too much emphasis to one factor over another. Everything has its place.
Comment icon #8 Posted by aquatus1 7 years ago
Nature's place is substantially below human technology. The biggest advantage it has always had is sheer quantity, and we are rapidly showing dominance over that as well. In a competition between nature and technology, tech wins every time. But yeah, we will never be completely safe.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Mikko-kun 7 years ago
That's an opinion, assertion that you know future, not a fact. "tech", machines made by creations of nature, didn't make themselves from tech. Those who make tech, didn't make nature, life, from nothinglessness like they made tech. Nature doesn't have the competition mentality the same way you've adopted it. It has big picture, adaptation mentality. It's not a separate entity from you where you at least try to assure yourself you experience yourself a separate entity from it. Separation allows competition, mere concepts, only partly factual at best. You can turn a blind eye to things as much a... [More]
Comment icon #10 Posted by Leonardo 7 years ago
Antibiotics are certainly a fantastic discovery, but let's not assume they are the ultimate in medical research. They are basically just GMO'd existing biologics. They will be made better, but frankly, they will also likely be replaced, probably by nanobots. Biology takes generations to advance and relies on random innovations. Computer tech advances ridiculously fast, robotics is zooming up right next to it, and miniaturization has always been a goal. Nanobots that can physically destroy a virus or a bacteria will serve as both vaccinations and cures. As long as we can avoid the gray ooze pro... [More]
Comment icon #11 Posted by aquatus1 7 years ago
That's an opinion, assertion that you know future, not a fact. Actually it is neither. It is a prediction based on how technology and nature have interacted in the past 500 years. "tech", machines made by creations of nature, didn't make themselves from tech. Those who make tech, didn't make nature, life, from nothinglessness like they made tech. um...okay? Nature doesn't have the competition mentality the same way you've adopted it. Are you kidding? Nature is ALL about competition. It is literally the foundation of the diversity of nature. Every single living thing is in competition for resou... [More]
Comment icon #12 Posted by aquatus1 7 years ago
I doubt nanotechnology can be successfully employed in such a way. There are so many species of microbiota in the gut, which are beneficial and necessary to proper digestion, that it is unlikely nanotechnology can be made so expertly as to avoid attacking them - as well as the harmful pathogens they would be supposed to target. Really? Frankly, that sounds more like a lack of imagination than anything else. Even at the most base level of minimalist intervention, if humans can successfully identify pathogens, why would nanomachines be incapable of eventually accomplishing the same feat? Even at... [More]
Comment icon #13 Posted by Frank Merton 7 years ago
Actually the scare tactics are rather misleading. Diseases germs evolve resistance, sometimes sooner, sometimes later, sometimes never. When it does happen it is generally because large number of people do not finish out the prescribed course and instead stop as soon as symptoms go away, allowing any with slight resistance to survive. Better public education about this is needed. For diseases where there is fear of resistance, treatment should involve several treatments at once, as this makes resistance and its evolution far more unlikely. Of course people need to be discouraged from taking th... [More]


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