Only 10 more years of antibiotics left? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 08-28-2010, 06:14 AM
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I'm surprised this hasn't got more press. I guess 10 years is a long time and a lot can happen in that time but experts are predicting that superbugs will soon make antibiotics less and less effective until they are of no value at all. Is this nature's way of controlling the exploding human population on earth?


"A lot of modern medicine would become impossible if we lost our ability to treat infections," he says. He is talking about transplant surgery, for instance, where patients' immune systems have to be suppressed to stop them rejecting a new organ, leaving them prey to infections, and the use of immuno-suppressant cancer drugs.

But it is not just an issue in advanced medicine. Antibiotics are vital to abdominal surgery. "You safeguard the patient from bacteria leaking into the body cavity," he says. "If you lose the ability to treat these infections, far more people would die of peritonitis." Appendix operations would carry the same risk as they did before Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928.

It may not be over yet, he says, but "we are certainly scraping the bottom of the barrel to find antibiotics that are effective against some of the infections caused by bacteria."

Running out is not the only issue, he says. When somebody has a severe infection say blood poisoning causing a high fever, a hospital clinician will dispatch blood samples to the lab to find out exactly what he is dealing with. But that takes time. "He will start you on antibiotics because that will kill infection within 48 hours," says Livermore. "So during 48 hours, you are being treated blind. The more resistant your bacteria are, the less likely the antibiotic is going to work."


http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/20...lth-infections
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#2 Old 08-28-2010, 07:07 AM
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Is this nature's way of controlling the exploding human population on earth?

No, of course not. Nature doesn't control populations in such a direct way. Nature only 'cares' for existing, and it doesn't matter at all how it exists as long as it does.
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#3 Old 08-28-2010, 08:07 AM
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No, of course not. Nature doesn't control populations in such a direct way. Nature only 'cares' for existing, and it doesn't matter at all how it exists as long as it does.

but what about if one species is destroying other species with their exploding population? Shouldn't 'nature' protect the species being affected by the species out of control?
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#4 Old 08-28-2010, 08:16 AM
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I don't think we'll be completely out of luck in just 10 years, but we probably will have to gradually move on to more and more powerful antibiotics. That's bad because the more powerful it is, the worse the side effects are, at least in my experience. One time I had to take a different antibiotic than normal for a chronic sinus infection (I believe it was erythromycin, can't remember for sure) and the pain and nausea it gave me was awful, it was WAY worse than when I've taken penicillin antibiotics before.
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#5 Old 08-28-2010, 08:21 AM
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No, the article clearly explains that antibiotics will not work against superbugs which will become the norm. You won't be able to just make 'more powerful ones' as they simply will not work against evolved bacteria. We've had a good run with antibiotics but it'll be over soon.
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#6 Old 08-28-2010, 10:02 AM
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but what about if one species is destroying other species with their exploding population?

Nature doesn't care about these things (it can't care).

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Shouldn't 'nature' protect the species being affected by the species out of control?

Nature doesn't protect anything. The living part of nature is just the mechanics that make life work, it's not an entity who/that has control over how things work. It just is.

As parts of nature (in the sense that our bodies are produced by natural processes), we can limit/get rid of the negative impact we have on life and the environment, but nature itself can't do this directly.
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#7 Old 08-28-2010, 10:28 AM
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Another problem we have factory farms to thank for. Factory farmers have apparently decided that cutting corners and injecting animals with antibiotics is more important than our health.

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#8 Old 08-28-2010, 10:49 AM
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What I find interesting is that simple ailments that are now treated with antibiotics will now be potentially fatal. Bronchitis, infections and more will kill people. I guess it means preventative medicine will be more important than ever.
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#9 Old 08-28-2010, 10:52 AM
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My Mom works for a pharmaceutical company, and she was telling me that the gov't has just charged pharma companies with coming up with a certain number of completely new antibiotics. I'm not sure the specifics of it.
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#10 Old 08-28-2010, 11:55 AM
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I guess 10 years is a long time and a lot can happen in that time but experts are predicting that superbugs will soon make antibiotics less and less effective until they are of no value at all.

I don't necessarily trust the 10 year prediction.

Many of these "experts" got it wrong about swine flu, and the constant assertions from "experts" that some new breakthrough found by animal research will herald some great cure within a few years or whatever rarely seems to materialize.

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#11 Old 08-28-2010, 12:01 PM
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Gaia Hypothesis. Some people in this thread really need to read it.

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#12 Old 08-28-2010, 12:50 PM
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My Mom works for a pharmaceutical company, and she was telling me that the gov't has just charged pharma companies with coming up with a certain number of completely new antibiotics. I'm not sure the specifics of it.

Perhaps your mom can comment on this statement?

"In many ways, this is it," Walsh tells me. "This is potentially the end. There are no antibiotics in the pipeline that have activity against NDM 1-producing enterobacteriaceae. We have a bleak window of maybe 10 years, where we are going to have to use the antibiotics we have very wisely, but also grapple with the reality that we have nothing to treat these infections with."

And this is the optimistic view based on the assumption that drug companies can and will get moving on discovering new antibiotics to throw at the bacterial enemy. Since the 1990s, when pharma found itself twisting and turning down blind alleys, it has not shown a great deal of enthusiasm for difficult antibiotic research. And besides, because, unlike with heart medicines, people take the drugs for a week rather than life, and because resistance means the drugs become useless after a while, there is just not much money in it.


It's basically saying big pharma has been trying to find even more powerful antibiotics for years and not coming up with much. Hence the concern.
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#13 Old 08-28-2010, 01:05 PM
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Perhaps your mom can comment on this statement?

"In many ways, this is it," Walsh tells me. "This is potentially the end. There are no antibiotics in the pipeline that have activity against NDM 1-producing enterobacteriaceae. We have a bleak window of maybe 10 years, where we are going to have to use the antibiotics we have very wisely, but also grapple with the reality that we have nothing to treat these infections with."

And this is the optimistic view – based on the assumption that drug companies can and will get moving on discovering new antibiotics to throw at the bacterial enemy. Since the 1990s, when pharma found itself twisting and turning down blind alleys, it has not shown a great deal of enthusiasm for difficult antibiotic research. And besides, because, unlike with heart medicines, people take the drugs for a week rather than life, and because resistance means the drugs become useless after a while, there is just not much money in it.


It's basically saying big pharma has been trying to find even more powerful antibiotics for years and not coming up with much. Hence the concern.

If I understood her correctly, the government was trying to encourage the pharma companies, somehow, to start doing more research into new antibiotics, despite it not being the most profitable endeavor. Like I said, I'm not sure how. I didn't intend to either refute or agree with the article (in fact I didn't even read much of it).

What I do know is this: mainstream media does a terrible job of reporting on science, but does a GREAT job scaring people ****less about their health.
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#14 Old 08-28-2010, 01:09 PM
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If I understood her correctly, the government was trying to encourage the pharma companies, somehow, to start doing more research into new antibiotics, despite it not being the most profitable endeavor. Like I said, I'm not sure how. I didn't intend to either refute or agree with the article (in fact I didn't even read much of it).

What I do know is this: mainstream media does a terrible job of reporting on science, but does a GREAT job scaring people ****less about their health.

OK that makes sense. We'll see if they can succeed where others have failed.

And its not the mainstream media making these claims, its actually the well respected medical journal The Lancet that is sounding the alarm. Again, I am amazed that the mainstream media isn't picking it up.
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#15 Old 08-28-2010, 02:05 PM
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I work in the medical field, and I see how antibiotics are prescribed. I see people on 2-3 different antibiotics for sometimes 6-8 weeks at a time for infections because one alone doesn't work anymore. Antibiotics were designed to be used for infections, with a specific time for treatment. The reason they don't work is because some people took them when they didn't need them, like for a cold, or they didn't take them for the prescribed window of time (aka "oh I feel better now, I don't need these anymore"). They can keep making all the antibiotics (or not making them) all they want, but ultimately, it's people's abuse of them that caused this problem in the first place.

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#16 Old 08-28-2010, 05:03 PM
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No, the article clearly explains that antibiotics will not work against superbugs which will become the norm. You won't be able to just make 'more powerful ones' as they simply will not work against evolved bacteria. We've had a good run with antibiotics but it'll be over soon.

I'm not denying that, I'm just saying that I don't necessarily trust the whole 10 year prediction. I think the lineup we have now, if used responsibly, could last us longer than that. It all depends on whether or not people are responsible enough to use them properly though, and I guess you can never really count on that, so maybe they will all fail within the next decade. At the end of the day, it's just not something that you can predict, nobody truly knows what is going to happen.
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#17 Old 08-28-2010, 09:04 PM
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I too work in the medical field and the overuse of antibiotics angers and scares me. I guess there is no one to blame but ourselves. As long as things keep going the way there are, people are going to get what they get.

And "loved ones" want every end stage dementia patient kept going as long as possible and at a great cost when the best thing for them and the most compassionate would be simply comfort measures. Putting someone on comfort measures doesn't mean they drop dead in a week. I've seen people on comfort care go on for a long time. We just don't have to do a bunch of lab work and send them to the hospital left and right for starters.
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#18 Old 08-28-2010, 10:00 PM
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I'm already susceptible to a superinfection that I've had twice that only two antibiotics in existence can treat, and one of them I'm allergic to. I have to be incredibly careful about antibiotic use now, not that I took them much before... I hadn't taken any in three years when I took the two cycles that caused the superinfection, and I needed those to prevent peritonitis (and the three years prior I was on them BECAUSE of peritonitis). I do think people need to cut down on their antibiotic use since they are way overused and people are too anxious to use them as a cureall. I know my husband wants to go running to the doctor after he's had a cold for three days, and I force him to wait it out for a week and see how he feels, and 9 times out of 10 he's on the mend at that point. If it was up to him though he'd be on antibiotics right away -- and the worst part is that his doctor has no problem prescribing them!

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#19 Old 08-28-2010, 11:42 PM
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I read that phages might be an alternative to antibiotics.

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A bacteriophage (from 'bacteria' and Greek φᾰγεῖν phagein "to eat") is any one of a number of viruses that infect bacteria. Bacteriophages are among the most common biological entities on Earth.[1] The term is commonly used in its shortened form, phage.
Typically, bacteriophages consist of an outer protein capsid enclosing genetic material. The genetic material can be ssRNA, dsRNA, ssDNA, or dsDNA ('ss-' or 'ds-' prefix denotes single-strand or double-strand) along with either circular or linear arrangement. Bacteriophages are much smaller than the bacteria they destroy.
Phages are estimated to be the most widely distributed and diverse entities in the biosphere.[2] Phages are ubiquitous and can be found in all reservoirs populated by bacterial hosts, such as soil or the intestines of animals. One of the densest natural sources for phages and other viruses is sea water, where up to 9×108 virions per milliliter have been found in microbial mats at the surface,[3] and up to 70% of marine bacteria may be infected by phages.[4] They have been used for over 60 years as an alternative to antibiotics in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.[5] They are seen as a possible therapy against multi drug resistant strains of many bacteria.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacteriophage

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#20 Old 08-28-2010, 11:47 PM
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It's been more than ten years since I've personally even used antibiotics. Maybe I'm lucky, or maybe it's genetics, or maybe it's a lifestyle thing. I think they're definitely overused in modern medicine although they definitely have their place.

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#21 Old 08-29-2010, 03:04 AM
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I work in the medical field, and I see how antibiotics are prescribed. I see people on 2-3 different antibiotics for sometimes 6-8 weeks at a time for infections because one alone doesn't work anymore. Antibiotics were designed to be used for infections, with a specific time for treatment. The reason they don't work is because some people took them when they didn't need them, like for a cold, or they didn't take them for the prescribed window of time (aka "oh I feel better now, I don't need these anymore"). They can keep making all the antibiotics (or not making them) all they want, but ultimately, it's people's abuse of them that caused this problem in the first place.

I am not sure of the system in other countries*, but here in the UK antibiotics have to be prescribed by a doctor. So it isn't actually people (aka the general population) abusing them, it is doctors who misuse them, probably even knowing that they won't work (as in the case of a head cold) but knowing that by the time the course of antibiotics has been finished, the cold will have finished anyway. (A bit like the old joke about the homeopathic cure for a cold: if you don't take it, the cold lasts a whole week: if you do take it, it's gone in 7 days!)

And perhaps that's exactly why it appeared in the Lancet (aimed at doctors) - to try and get doctors to stop prescribing them.

It's a shame it hasn't been picked up by the mainstream media though - they could also investigate the routine use of antibiotics in farm animals as well. Chances are meat eaters are sometimes ingesting small doses or antibiotics in their food, which is making the whole problem worse.

*I used to have a friend from the Philippines who always had antibiotics in her medicine cupboard - they are not on prescription there, and they take them for any illness. She used to get them sent into the UK from the Philippines all the time.
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#22 Old 08-29-2010, 03:14 AM
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Let's not forget that in many countries the medical system is by and large unregulated: if you have the money you can get any medicine or treatment you want. In India you can pretty much walk into any pharmacy and order what you want without a prescription including antibiotics. Over-use of antibiotics in India is rife from what I hear. Perhaps its not a surprise that these new superbugs are initially originating from there.

But even if all of these wrongs were made right and people stopped taking antibiotics to excess and the animal food industry stopped using antibiotics etc etc: the genie is out of the bottle. Its now just a race between the decline of the effectiveness of antibiotics, the speed superbugs develop and the speed at which other treatments can be found to replace antibiotics or a change in medicine in general.
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#23 Old 08-29-2010, 11:28 PM
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the bacteriaphage as alternative antibiotics sounds interesting. I'd like to read more about it.

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#24 Old 08-30-2010, 09:46 AM
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A team of scientists are even more bleak after their research:

Speaking exclusively to Wales on Sunday, Prof Walsh called for the world to face up to a future without antibiotics.

He said: “This is Darwin’s survival of the fittest – and we are on the losing side.

“The real test is – can bacteria evolve resistance and maintain resistance quicker than we can develop antibacterial drugs?

“The ultimate answer to that is yes, it can.

“We have all been scratching around to try to find new classes of antibiotics, but ultimately bacteria’s DNA systems can evolve and transfer very quickly so the odds are not in our favour.

“We have to be realistic and accept that this is potentially the future we will have to face.”

The world’s population has exploded from two billion people 80 years ago to more than six billion today – all thanks to the discovery and mass production of antibiotics like penicillin.

Because bacteria multiply every 20 to 30 minutes, they evolve very quickly and become resistant to antibiotics used against them.

In the past, this has not mattered because scientists were producing so many new types of drug, but in the last 15 years development of new antibiotics has almost ground to a halt, meaning bacteria are catching up fast.

Prof Walsh added: “Two years ago bugs like this were, quite frankly, unheard of and now they are being reported all over the world.

“We quite simply don’t know if there are other bacteria like NDM-1 out there although we do know that there have been reports from some colleagues who have reported pan-resistant bacteria in Greece.”


...

Prof Walsh said there was still a shred of hope while such a small number of people were confirmed to be infected in the UK.

But he added that if bacteria such as E.coli carrying the NDM-1 gene were able to infect people and spread as quickly as other similar bacteria it would be “a disaster”.

“If this is the case we can expect NDM-1 to appear in our lives very soon,” he said.


http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wa...1466-27064296/
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#25 Old 08-30-2010, 11:49 AM
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I am not sure of the system in other countries*, but here in the UK antibiotics have to be prescribed by a doctor. So it isn't actually people (aka the general population) abusing them, it is doctors who misuse them, probably even knowing that they won't work (as in the case of a head cold) but knowing that by the time the course of antibiotics has been finished, the cold will have finished anyway. (A bit like the old joke about the homeopathic cure for a cold: if you don't take it, the cold lasts a whole week: if you do take it, it's gone in 7 days!)


People here in the US do require a prescription for antibiotics. I agree that it is the doctor's faults as well, but they are appeasing the people that come into their offices so they keep getting business. There is a lot of "doctor shopping" that happens here. I hear patients all the time say, "I started seeing a different doctor, because this one didn't give me what I wanted." Maybe people just need more education on how they work? Then again, as was said earlier, a lot of the damage has already been done. Good point too about antibiotics being injected into animals. I believe that is where some of the resistance comes from as well.

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#26 Old 08-30-2010, 01:24 PM
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so, what? Do we stop prescribing antibiotics except for life threatening infections?

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#27 Old 08-30-2010, 02:54 PM
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so, what? Do we stop prescribing antibiotics except for life threatening infections?

I wouldn't take it to that extreme, but we should obviously stop prescribing antibiotics when they're not needed to treat something. They're misused a lot, and that can be blamed on the doctors and the patients.

On numerous occasions I've seen people get antibiotic prescriptions without knowing what the exact cause of their infection was, their doctor just takes a shot in the dark and hopes they're prescribing the right thing, without actually testing the infection and doing any lab work to determine what will be the most effective.
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#28 Old 08-30-2010, 03:34 PM
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I wouldn't take it to that extreme, but we should obviously stop prescribing antibiotics when they're not needed to treat something. They're misused a lot, and that can be blamed on the doctors and the patients.

On numerous occasions I've seen people get antibiotic prescriptions without knowing what the exact cause of their infection was, their doctor just takes a shot in the dark and hopes they're prescribing the right thing, without actually testing the infection and doing any lab work to determine what will be the most effective.

Exactly.

I don't think anyone here is trying to say that doctors should stop prescribing them, just that they should be prescribed for the right reason. I see a lot of people that don't understand antibiotics are only supposed to be used to treat infections, and not viruses.

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#29 Old 08-30-2010, 04:04 PM
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It has nothing to do with "nature" trying to control human population; it's our overuse of antibiotics which will render them useless.
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#30 Old 08-30-2010, 04:05 PM
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the tone of this thread sounded that extreme. 10 years is not that long.

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