Researchers from Ohio State University have established a link between orally ingesting antibiotics and a recent increase in resistance to certain medications. Members of the research team say their findings suggest a switch to alternative methods for administering treatment, such as intravenous therapy (IV).

"For more than 40 years, a few doses of penicillin were enough to take care of deadly bacterial infections," explained Hua Wang from the University's Department of Microbiology.

"Revealing this key risk factor is exciting because we have options other than oral administration, including convenient ones, for giving antibiotics."

Antibiotic resistance, also known as antimicrobial resistance, is when certain medications fail to eliminate the threat of a harmful microorganism such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses. The microorganism's resistance is caused by desensitization to antibiotics over time as the body gets used to treatment.

For example, a multidrug resistance to a certain strain of tuberculosis has led to the insufficiency of highly touted TB medications rifampicin and isoniazid. According to the World Health Organization's data, 630,000 multidrug resistant cases have been reported around the world.

The research team, comprised of experts from Ohio State's Department of Food Science and Technology, College of Public Health, and the Department of Microbiology, conducted its investigation using lab mice that were introduced to resistant genes carried by the human pathogen Enterococcus or E. coli bacteria.

The test subjects were given doses of tetracycline or ampicillin antibiotics, either orally or by injecting the solution directly into the rodent's blood stream. Results of their analysis showed that mice who were treated orally eventually built up resistance to said medication; however, mice injected with the same antibiotics recorded a minimal resistance to treatment, if any.

Wang and his colleagues are not surprised by this finding, considering antibiotics taken orally face exposure to gastrointestinal bacteria, which can breakdown its effectiveness over time. Alternative treatments to oral medication include use of an IV as well as transdermal administration by a patch.

Source: Zhang L, Huang Y, Zhou Y, Buckley T, Wang H. Antibiotics: Change Route of Delivery to Mitigate Resistance. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 2013.