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As Antibiotics are becoming less effective, it is becoming more critical to identify their effectiveness before being applied to treat patients with specific bacterial infections.
FREMONT, CA: A growing number of infections, including pneumonia, tuberculosis, and gonorrhea that are treated by antibiotics, are now becoming hard to treat as these antibiotics becoming less effective. To predict the effectiveness of antibiotics at an early stage, scientists have developed a method to test if an infection is resistant to an antibiotic. An example would be Beta-lactam antibiotics such as penicillin, an important class of antibiotics. Nowadays, resistance to such antibiotics has grown, such that doctors avoid prescribing them for serious infections.
Researchers from the University of York have modified an antibiotic from the beta-lactam family such that it can be attached to a sensor
. The sensor, in turn, detects the presence of bacteria, which is resistant to the treatment. Hence the modified antibiotic, when applied, identifies whether an infection is treatable with antibiotics if not stronger alternatives can be recommended for patients who need it. Antibiotic resistance is a natural phenomenon, but when the antibiotics are misused, it accelerates the process. If the condition persists, antibiotics will no longer treat patients leading to millions of deaths per year. Thus, the lack of diagnostic tests to inform doctors if they are not dealing with resistant bacteria can result in the problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Further, the research paves the way for the development of tests that will give valuable information to the doctors on the bacteria they are dealing with in their study. This enables the usage of antibiotics whenever needed and not all the time. Resistance to new antibiotics may occur with their emergence, and so they have to be retained when they are required. The discovery helps to identify and isolate resistant bacteria while reducing their chances of large outbreaks. One common way adopted by bacteria to show their resistance is by releasing enzymes that can break down beta-lactam antibiotics, rendering them ineffective.
Here, detecting the presence of resistance enzymes by attaching the modified antibiotic to a sensor surface can accomplish the test for the drug if it is broken or not. Also, the modified antibiotic can be applied to many different biosensing devices for use at the point-of-care.