Forewarned is armed: antibiotics help fight resistant bacteria

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

Scientists have advanced in the fight against a bacterium that causes hospital-acquired infections.

A picture: Shutterstock

Research results published in the official journal of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Sciences – European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

One of the most difficult problems of modern medicine is the increasing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics. The number of strains of pathogenic microbes that are not affected by antibiotics is increasing every year. Many of these bacteria can cause serious illness in humans.

The most famous of these microscopic enemies is Klebsiella pneumoniae (Klebsiella pneumonia, Friedlander’s bacillus). This small bacterium is found almost everywhere and in most cases poses no threat to ordinary people. However, the situation changes for the worse when it comes to a person with a weakened immune system, for example, infected with another infection. Once inside a vulnerable organism, Klebsiella can cause various diseases, the most common of which is pneumonia. Recently, more and more strains of this bacterium have been found that are resistant to most available antibiotics. Moreover, this bacterium is one of the main causes of hospital infections.

A group of scientists from Russia and France studied the possibility of counteracting such pathogens with a drug based on technologically engineered antibodies.

Different groups of mice were infected with different doses of bacteria. While the lowest doses only resulted in weight loss in sick animals, the administration of large doses resulted in death. Various treatment options have been tested in this model.

As a positive control, the study used gentamicin, an antibiotic that suppresses the Klebsiella strain that infected mice. The antibiotic amoxicillin, to which these bacteria are immune, was used as a negative control. In the research group, an experimental preparation was added to inactive amoxicillin, a solution of technologically processed antibodies against the histocompatibility complex. This complex is a complex system of genes and associated proteins that perform extensive functions in the body’s immune system. These functions include recognition of self and foreign cells. That is why the scientists suggested that the use of a drug based on technologically processed antibodies to the histocompatibility complex may lead to an increase in the severity of the animals’ immune response to the introduced pathogen.

The effectiveness of the therapy was assessed by the survival of animals, as well as by the change in their weight over the course of the disease. Weight loss is a standard measure of the severity of a body-borne disease. Mice given an ineffective antibiotic along with the drug survived almost as often as mice treated with an effective antibiotic. In groups of mice that were weakly infected, the therapeutic effect was manifested in weight maintenance. Thus, using a solution of technologically engineered antibodies to the histocompatibility complex, it was possible to enhance the effect of the antibiotic on bacteria.

After such promising results, scientists tested the effect of antibiotics on bacteria directly by adding them to cultures outside the body. Indeed, effective gentamicin stopped colony growth, while amoxicillin, co-administered with the study drug, did not slow the growth of pathogenic microbes. This proves that the dissolution of technologically engineered antibodies actually works by regulating the immune system’s response to infection, without directly inhibiting bacterial growth.

The results of this scientific work are important for the development of new approaches to treat infections caused by bacteria resistant to conventional antibiotics.

In the meantime, as scientists continue to work on new drugs, remember that one of the best ways to prevent pneumonia is to keep your immune system on full alert. And wash your hands more often.

Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org

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