Introduction: Antibiotics have the ability to kill or hinder the growth of bacteria. Antibiotics contain compounds that are naturally produced by organisms to combat diseases caused by microbes. Discovery of penicillin by Sir Alexander Fleming became the first stepping stone of many new antibiotics of today’s modern medicine. Antibiotics typically invade the very components that make up bacteria, such as cell walls and metabolic pathways (Sato et al., 2014). However, frequent mutations of bacteria cause today’s strains to become more resistant.
Strains of bacteria that are resistant to all prescribed antibiotics are beginning to appear. As a result, diseases such as tuberculosis and penicillin-resistant gonorrhea are reemerging on a worldwide scale (1). Resistance first appears in a population of bacteria through conditions that favor its selection. When an antibiotic attacks a group of bacteria, cells that are highly susceptible to the medicine will die. On the other hand, cells that have some resistance from the start or acquire it later may survive.
Antibiotic resistance is a phenomenon in which microorganisms undergo a genetic mutation that allows them to withstand the effects of antibiotic agents designed to kill them or make them incapable of reproduction. To understand antibiotic resistance, it is important to understand what antibiotics are and the mechanisms behind these drugs that affect diseases. Antibiotics are chemical agents that specifically target certain bacterial strains and disable the bacteria by preventing their reproduction and growth. Before or right when symptoms start occurring in a body following an infection, usually the white blood cells of the human body can cope with the infection. But when it gets past the power of WBCs, antibiotics are prescribed to prevent permanent damage to the body, permanent internal damage, sepsis or even death.
Ever since the discovery of antibiotics in the 1920’s, treating bacterial infections in humans, and animals alike, has emerged as a revolutionary possibility. Antibiotics are drugs that are naturally produced by bacteria or fungus to defend against other bacteria via death or inhibiting reproduction (1). Since their detection, antibiotics have been diversified into many different forms and classes which are arranged by mode of action. Glycopeptides are a class of antibiotics which are composed of glycolsylated cyclic or polycyclic nonribosomal peptides that inhibit cell wall synthesis in susceptible bacteria (2). However, it was soon discovered that the use of these antibiotic drugs would lead to antibiotic resistance.
Multidrug resistant strains such as Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Enterococcus, Pseudomonas, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and Plasmodium pose unique problems in the health field and caregivers must treat the infected patients without effective antimicrobials. Through intensive research, studies have shown that cells are able to genetically acquire resistance in two ways: through mutations of chromosomal genes and by acquiring resistance genes or chromosomal pieces of DNA called plasmids in a process called horizontal gene transfer. Literature reports, “Bacteria can carry genes that allow them to survive exposure to the antibiotic we currently have. This means that infections caused by these bacteria are harder to treat, although they are not more severe or infectious. What is concerning is that the gene that carries they antibiotic resistance can be passed between bacteria, allowing for the creation of bacteria that carry resistance to many antibiotics, a superbug”.
Microorganisms that can produce genes to combat antibiotics survive and reproduce, and those that cannot die, leaving only the resistant bacteria. Resistance is very versatile and can come in many forms, including preventing the entry of the antibiotic, exporting the antibiotic, or producing enzymes that can degrade the antibiotic. Resistance also includes the ability to modify the antibiotic target, thereby rendering it useless. An example of the inactivation of antimicrobial drugs can be seen in the resistance of bacteria with a beta lactam ring structure; these bacteria have developed enzymes such as beta-lactamases that degrade and inactivate antibiotics targeting their ring structure. Some evidence exists supporting the claim that antimicrobial substances exist naturally in the environment, contributing to resistance; however, there is more evidence supporting the claim that overuse of drugs, agriculture, and many other human uses are feeding resistance.
Bacteria are unique because they are able to transfer genes both vertically and horizontally (Wright, 2010). Common diseases that were caused by bacteria and resulted in death before antibiotics included rheumatic fever, syphilis, cellulitis, and bacterial pneumonia. Antibiotics, also known as antimicrobial agents, are used to destroy or halt the growth of bacteria. Penicillin was the first antibiotic discovered by a scientist named Alexander Fleming in 1928 (CDC, 2013). The new discovery of many antibiotics over the next several years led to an extraordinary revolution of medicine by considerably lowering the rate of death and illness from the d... ... middle of paper ... ...lnesses.
Research has turned toward the use of antimicrobial peptides as an alternative to traditional antibiotics in treating drug resistant bacteria. Antimicrobial peptides, also referred to as defensins, are short chains of amino acids that act against microorganisms. In plants and animals these peptides are made up of anywhere between 15 and 45 amino acid residues, and they are usually cationic, meaning that they contain higher amounts of lysine and arginine (Hancock and Lehrer 82). The peptides are produced as part of the body’s innate immune system, and they may be continuously present or produced in response to injury and infection. Because antimicrobial peptides are incorporated in innate immunity and are considered part of the body’s second line of defense against infection, they are often found in areas that may have close contact with environmental pathogens.
Antibiotic resistance is a consequence of the misuse of antibiotics that give pathogenic bacteria the ability to withstand the effects of an antibiotic. Resistance occurs when bacteria change in such a way that they survive exposure to antibiotics. Resistance may not be confined to a single antibiotic, but may affect multiple antimicrobial classes. Antibiotic resistance is a major problem and everyone needs to work together to combat it - from medical practitioners to patients. To get a clear insight of how pathogenic bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, one has to understand first how antibiotics work.