What is antibiotic?
Have you ever tried asking this question to yourself? I am sure not. We are too busy in our day today life to do research on the medicine we consume also we trust the doctors, so it’s none of our business to worry about the medicines we take. Right from cold, Bacterial infection to severe illnesses like Tuberculosis we need these antibiotics. Antibiotics mean anti-bacterial agents which are used to treat and prevent infections caused by micro-organisms. Antibiotics are produced by the micro-organisms to kill other micro-organisms, but we use them for our benefit to treat infections by producing them on industrial scale using these antibiotic producer micro-organisms. Now-a-days they are modified synthetically for designing new drugs or made by complete artificial synthesis. Antibiotics either kill or inhibit the growth of micro-organisms, by attacking their important cell functions. They are also effective in treating fungal and protozoan infections but not the diseases caused by viruses.
The discovery of antibiotics changed the future of drugs and gave new hopes to the field of medicines. More and more new antibiotic agents were discovered and the pharmaceuticals started producing them on larger scale to suffice the increasing demand, as they are effective and easy to use. But in this golden period of antibiotics the world was unaware of the new threat it carried for mankind. The emergence of antibiotic resistance started….
What is antibiotic resistance?
In nature all the living organisms possesses the characteristic of adaptation to the environment. In the similar fashion this microorganisms can adapt to the changing environment. As antibiotic kill or inhibit the growth of micro-organisms by disturbing crucial cellular metabolism, these organisms modifies in accordance to avoid the damage caused by the antibiotic agents. This change can be temporary or permanent depending on different organisms. The permanent change occurs when the modification happens on the DNA level and is passed on to the next generation. The wide use of antibiotic has lead to increase in such drug resistant organisms, so the traditional antibiotic prove to be less effective or does not affect at all. Sometimes combination therapy helps but again there are organisms which have modified themselves to become resistance to multiple drugs or all the available drugs which is a deadly threat. The antibiotic resistant organisms are also called as “SUPERBUGS” as they are hard to kill. This situation has got us to the pre-antibiotic era, with pharmaceutical industries gradually withdrawing from development of new molecules.
Why new molecules are not designed by the pharmaceutical companies?
It is because it takes years and millions of dollars to develop a new molecule and probably a few months for emergence of antibiotic resistance. In many instances, the genetic mechanism encoding resistance exists even before the introduction of new antimicrobial. This whole thing is not economically feasible. So we need to save the present antibiotics instead of making new agents by taking precautions to avoid organisms from turning into drug resistant.
Why the micro-organisms acquire the characteristic of drug resistance?
It is due to the injudicious use of antibiotics by the doctors, pharmacists and people like us.
Precautions to be taken:-
- Antibiotics should not be used robustly. The doctors should prescribe the antibiotics depending upon the need for broad spectrum or narrow spectrum.
- No antibiotics are needed for viral cold or viral fever.
- The course of the prescribed antibiotics should be completed because if not completed few pathogen cells still lives and they poses the antibiotic resistance character which they later on pass to their progeny making it difficult to treat after recurrence.
- Antibiotics should not be taken without doctor’s prescription.
- The best is to not to give antibiotics without antibiotic susceptibility test as it will avoid the unnecessary intake of antibiotics.
- They should be stored properly in the environment mentioned on it.
These are few precautions but the problem does not get solved here as there is lack of awareness in public. Also many doctors aware or unaware are responsible for the increase in drug resistance. The drug resistance has increased in India as well as globally. To tackle this many organizations are working towards it one of which is Antibiotic stewardship.
To check more on antibiotic resistance and programs regarding awareness visit Antibiotic Stewardship Network India i.e www.absn.in
Help Save Antibiotics, Save Life.
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-Varsha Peghwal & Pooja Navale
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