Since the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928, antibiotics have saved over 100 million lives, according to The Truth About Antibiotics a documentary from The Passionate Eye.
But pharmaceutical companies have not developed new antibiotic groups since the mid-eighties – more than thirty years ago. During this time, bacteria have developed resistance to antibiotics, which means that the drugs used today are less effective.
A Harvard University Resistance Test shows how resistant some E. coli bacteria are.
Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, believes that we are approaching an apocalypse in which millions of people could die from resistant bacterial infections: "Asia is on the edge, so you have something, maybe 1
Even now the bacteria are gaining. A 2014 report from the UK's Antibiotic Resistance Report found that at least 50,000 people die each year from drug-resistant infections in Europe and the US. She also suggested that if nothing is done, 10 million people could die each year by 2050.
The Truth About Antibiotics examines how doctors and researchers fight back.
A quick test for bacterial infections
A A recent study found that global use of antibiotics increased by a sizeable 65 percent between 2000 and 2015, and this overuse has real implications.
According to the film, patients in the UK often ask their general practitioner for antibiotic respiratory symptoms, while the doctor has no way of knowing definitively if an infection is caused by bacteria or viruses. Antibiotics are not effective in controlling viruses and their ingestion, if they are not essential, increases the risk of bacterial resistance.
"Our most important rule in medicine is to do no harm and currently due to inappropriate administration of antibiotics. We may be able to harm future generations, "says Dr. Aggy York, a General Practitioner from England interviewed for The Truth About Antibiotics.
To make the prescription of antibiotics more precise, scientists have developed a simple, three-minute fingerprint which measures a patient's blood sample for the C-reactive protein, also known as CRP.
CRP levels provide information about the body's response to an infection: a high level indicates a bacterial infection, meaning a lower level that you are likely to be suffering from a virus A 2016 study indicated that this type of point-of-care test reduced the use of antibiotics in patients with acute respiratory infections.
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As described in The Truth About Antibiotics, Tina Joshi, researcher and lecturer at the University of Plymouth, is developing a small handheld device to analyze the DNA of a bacterium so that doctors can recognize one strain of another and get a diagnosis in minutes can.
"It will be like a traffic light system," says Joshi. "During a five-minute medical appointment, the doctor may say, 'Ah, I'll prescribe you this narrow-spectrum antibiotic, which will actually treat you. & # 39; And it should really help the clinician with appropriate prescription.
The discovery of penicillin was a lucky coincidence when Fleming found mold on an exposed Petri dish that apparently killed bacteria. Scientists are everywhere looking for bacteria that are looking for organisms that could become new antibiotics.
Mark Merchant, Professor of Biochemistry at McNeese State University, investigates alligators in the wetlands on the Texas-Louisiana border. "If I get a little scratch on my arm in this water, it turns red and swollen and heavily infected," he says. "The immune system of these animals must be amazing."
By examining her blood, Merchant has identified two small proteins that may someday become a new antibiotic. But scientists like Merchant need to work fast, because it can take years for new drugs to develop, and millions of dollars can be brought to market until they are ready for the market.
Phages: Bacteria that kill bacteria
Bacteriophages, also called phages, are known as reproducing spider viruses by killing bacteria. They have been detected before antibiotics, but scientists are now investigating them with renewed interest. Phages are very specific in the bacteria that attack them. To work as an antibacterial medicine, a perfect match of the two factors is required.
Ben Chan, a Yale University researcher, is looking into all sorts of areas, including his local wastewater treatment plant, to collect and study new phages. "One billion milliliters of seawater may contain a billion phages. So they are everywhere, "he says.
According to the documentation, the science of phages was developed as early as the 1950s in Eastern Europe, but phage treatment has not gone through the necessary tests to be available in the West world yet.
Susan Lea, a researcher at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford, says there is one thing anyone can do to combat antibiotic resistance: wash your hands for twenty Seconds after using the bathroom. Bacteria do not like water – or soap – and this simple act can greatly reduce the spread of infections and the need for antibiotics.
Derek Butler, who supports the charity MRSA Action UK, has been working on initiatives in hospitals to improve hygiene and screening. Along with government campaigns, these initiatives have reduced the number of deaths in the UK by 80 percent over MRSA, a particularly vicious supporter that is resistant to multiple antibiotics, from its peak in 2006.
"It's self-help for ourselves, it's help for our families, and it's a help to our community … and it's easy," Lea says.
Watch the truth about antibiotics in the passionate eye.