The Grapevine

Microbes Placed Into Dormancy Can Develop Antibiotic Resistance, Study Finds

When the anti-bodies from our bodies or from the medicine we take put down the viruses and bacteria that try to take over our systems, then it’s only natural for us to think that it’s essentially the end of the line for them. And most of the time it is, which is good since this means our immune system is more than capable.

However, new research revealed that infectious bacteria that are down but not quite dead yet may still be dangerous. This is because while antibiotics can put the bacteria into dormancy, the microbes in question can just easily develop resistance to another type of drug, which can be very dangerous for us humans.

Adapting Bacterial Microbes

According to the report last Friday in the journal Science, deadly Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that could tolerate one type of antibiotic was able to develop resistance to a second (and different) type of antibiotic, and it did this nearly three times faster. Per the researchers, the results of the study show why, sometimes, the drug cocktails used to fight infections doesn’t work. Furthermore, this can potentially change the way antibiotics are prescribed, especially in different situations.

“Tolerance is not as well-known or as well-publicized [as resistance], but [this] work shows it is extremely important. It is very much happening, and we need to pay closer attention to it,” Allison Lopatkin, a computational biologist at Barnard College in New York City, who was not involved in the study, said.

Usually, when in the presence of antibiotics, antibiotic-tolerant bacteria just stop growing and enter a dormant state that can help them survive the assault against them. These types of bacteria are the ones that are behind lingering or recurring infections, affecting people with weakened immune systems.

And now, the research shows that these tolerant bacteria have a higher chance of developing resistance from antibiotics. As such, the researchers behind the study believe that patients should get multi-drug cocktails to make sure the bacteria don’t start developing tolerance and resistance.

Nevertheless, the new research is only the beginning since more needs to be done in order to understand how bacteria develop tolerance in many ways.

microbe By analyzing the succession of postmortem bacterial changes, the time of death can be determined with new accuracy. quinn.anya, CC BY-SA 2.0