I know it’s been some time since I wrote here. For more on why, check out my front page.
Last week was a special time for those working in public health. It was the first…
After 70 years of knowing bacteria can become resistant to these life-saving drugs, the world has taken notice. You may have seen and heard headlines in the media over the last week discussing antibiotics. The situation has become a crisis as we face what is known as the post-antibiotic era.
But what exactly does that mean? Perhaps this might help:
This is just in the United States – worldwide, the number is far greater.
The statistics are frightening and the risk for troubles are growing. But while the message about antibiotic resistance spreads, some of the more valuable information has been left unsaid.
Now that Antibiotic Awareness Week is over, I wanted to add a coda to the event. I wanted to bring attention to the issue by going into the science of the issue and show some of the latest work describing just how resistance comes about, what we can do in the present, and a look to the future.
First, my Popular Science column explores how antibiotic resistance comes about. It’s all about a word used quite often in ecology: fitness. When a bacterium comes into contact with an antibiotic, it may die but it may also find a way to survive. Depending on the drug, the fitness differs, even for the same bacterium. This reveals how dynamic resistance is as a whole and why it is so difficult to prevent. After all, you’re looking for a needle in a haystack.
My Huffington Post Canada column takes a different look at the problem by looking forward to the future. Because resistance to antibiotics is so hard to tackle, the best way to approach it is to look for alternative measures. One of the best options is called an antimicrobial peptide, or AMP.
These molecules are simple in design and extremely effective at killing bacteria. The supply could be endless as almost every species on Earth produces them. All we need to do is go hunting for them and then test them in the lab. Though it may take some time, AMPs may be the answer to antibiotics and may one day become the treatment of choice.
Finally, I wanted to take a completely different perspective on antibiotic resistance not seen in the news. For this, I teamed up with two great video experts, Jay Trout and Sean Webb. Together, we put a short 2:22 video together on where you can find antibiotic resistance and what you can do to help prevent the post-antibiotic era.
As you’ll see, there are three easy ways you can make a difference. After all, we all play a role in stalling the approach of the post-antibiotic era. We can all do our part.
For those wondering, the video is in Standard Definition so anyone with a slow internet stream can still watch it. If you are looking for an HD version, just let me know.
Antibiotic resistance will continue to be a problem for a very long time. But knowing the trifecta past, present, and future will ultimately help us to achieve the goals of Antibiotic Awareness Week. We cannot lose our ability to use antibiotics…at least not yet. Let’s make sure we are all helping to make a difference.
As always, would love to know your thoughts.