Over the years, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of antibiotic resistant infections.
The preliminary climax was the appearance of an E. coli strain in China harbouring the mcr-1 gene that enables the bacteria to withstand the last resort antibiotic colistin. Within twelve months, this colistin resistance gene has spread across the globe, was mutated and transferred to other Gram-negative species. As a result, a variety of colistin resistant Enterobacteriaceae like Klebsiella sp. and Salmonella sp. appeared.
The need for a new technology that can protect us from the fatal impact of these unstoppable infections is obvious.
Any serious technology has to overcome the following issues:
As early as 1945, Sir Alexander Fleming recognised the problem of drug resistance:
It is not difficult to make microbes resistant to penicillin in the laboratory by exposing them to concentrations not sufficient to kill them, and the same thing has occasionally happened in the body.
The time may come when penicillin can be bought by anyone in the shops. Then there is the danger that the ignorant man may easily underdose himself and by exposing his microbes to non-lethal quantities of the drug make them resistant.
Today Fleming's prediction has become reality.
Persisters are bacterial cells which are highly tolerant to antibiotics due to a dormant metabolism and non-dividing state. In contrast to resistant cells, persisters do not genetically differ from the metabolic active population. During antibiotic therapy, only metabolically active cells can be addressed while persisters survive and are the main reason for reoccurring and chronic infections that can affect people of any age, health and immune status.
Impairment of the microbiome
Bacteria and fungi secrete antibiotics in order to keep their environment clear of competitors. Therefore, they do not need to distinguish between friend and foe. However, the human microbiome consists of billions of different bacterial cells live in symbiosis with us, regulate our digestion and support our immune system. During an antibiotic therapy, not only pathogenic bacteria are eliminated. The symbiotic bacteria are also killed and the balance between the microbiome and the human organism is disturbed.
Antibiotics have no way of distinguishing between friend or foe. They destroy – or in the best case impair – our microbiome.
This has a significant impact on the well-being of animals and humans. The rapid increase in allergies, obesity, and other indicators are all suggestive of the long-term side effects of antibiotics.
The microbiome scientist Dr. Martin F. Blaser quoted:
Most cells in our body are not human but microbial: the ratio of ‘them’ to ‘us’ is about 10:1. We have been using antibiotics as if there was no biological cost.