Back with a Vengeance: The Trouble with Defeating Diseases
SOURCE: The University of Texas- Austin
Millions of people use antibacterial soap daily in order to stay healthy. This, it turns out, may actually do much more harm than good by contributing to the spread of drug-resistant disease.
Products made using triclosan — a common antibiotic found in everything from hand soap to cleaning wipes to toys — are among University of Texas microbiologist Marvin Whiteley‘s biggest pet peeves. “The problem with that antibiotic is that it’s really not that active against a lot of the bugs you’d hope it would be,” says Whiteley, a professor of molecular biosciences.
But it’s not triclosan’s ineffectiveness that bugs Whiteley. It’s that it weakens other antibiotics. “Bacteria that are susceptible to triclosan become resistant to it, but they also become resistant to antibiotics you might get at the doctor’s office. So you’re proliferating antibiotic resistance,” he warns. “We’re putting millions of pounds of this stuff into the environment.”
TOP IMAGE Scanning electron micrograph showing Pseudomonas aeruginosa cells (false-colored green) confined within a bacterial “lobster” trap, allowing researchers to study how communities of bacteria interact and develop infections.
BOTTOM IMAGE Depiction of the antibiotic resistance determinant New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM-1) after its inactivation of the drug methicillin.
New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1 (NDM-1) is an enzyme that makes bacteria resistant to a broad range of antibiotics. These include the antibiotics of the carbapenem family, which are a mainstay for the treatment of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.