US researchers have said that new treatments for mild infections could help slow the mutation of severe bacterial infections with less antibiotic resistance.
In a new essay published in the open access journal PLOS Biology, Sam P Brown and Kristofer Wollein Waldetoft of the Georgia Institute of Technology, US, have determined that using antibiotics to tackle certain mild infections may contribute to the evolution of antibiotic resistance.
Many of the antibiotics operate in similar ways, with one single antibiotic promoting resistance to many drugs, which means that the efforts in researching alternative therapies should help move focus from severe to milder infections.
Dr Richard Stabler, co-director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Antimicrobial Resistance Centre, UK, said: “This work identifies a potential new target for novel antibacterial therapies that could be used to treat bacteria that are resistant to other classes of antibiotics, but there is a long way to go before this could lead to new drugs.”
However, the issue with this treatment, according to general secretary of the Society for Applied Microbiology Dr Clare Taylor, is that the antibiotics falling out of use due to resistance could get a resurgence.
She said: “If you disrupt that membrane-sensing potential in a bacterium, it switches off its ability to remove the antibiotic.
“I suspect that in time, bacteria would find a way around them.”
Authors of the document have noted that alternative therapies are just one way to combat the resistance, with other strategies including shorter courses of antibiotic treatment.