Antibiotic resistance has caused a fall in life expectancy for the first time, the Office for National Statistics has said.
Life expectancy in future years has been revised down after the statistics authority said that “less optimistic views” about the future had to be taken into account.
Opinions on “improvements in medical science” had declined, it said, and fears of the “re-emergence of existing diseases and increases in anti-microbial resistance” meant people would not live as long as was previously expected.
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Before we get too carried away, it’s still very early days. So far, Lam has only tested her star-shaped polymers on six strains of drug-resistant bacteria in the lab, and on one superbug in live mice.
But in all experiments, they’ve been able to kill their targeted bacteria – and generation after generation don’t seem to develop resistance to the polymers.
The polymers – which they call SNAPPs, or structurally nanoengineered antimicrobial peptide polymers – work by directly attacking, penetrating, and then destabilising the cell membrane of bacteria.
Unlike antibiotics, which ‘poison’ bacteria, and can also affect healthy cells in the area, the SNAPPs that Lam has designed are so large that they don’t seem to affect healthy cells at all.
Watch the video:’ from Harvard Medical School:
“…Kishony and his team built the MEGA-plate and filled it with a media on which E. coli could grow, die, evolve, and propagate. Next they dosed the media with greater and greater concentrations of antibiotics; the outermost reaches of the plate received no antibiotic whatsoever, but by the time they got to the center of the plate, Kishony and his team had laced the agar with antibiotics at 1000 times the concentration needed to kill their starting strain of E. coli. Then they switched on their video camera, seeded the antibiotic-free section of the plate with bacteria, and watched what happened.”
In the fight against infectious bacteria, humans are slowly losing the battle. That’s because common pathogens are developing resistance to the antibiotics we use to wipe them out. By 2050 it’s expected that, globally, drug-resistant infections will kill more people than cancer.
However, the fight is far from over. Researchers have discovered a potential new class of antibiotic that’s a triple threat: it obliterates many types of drug-resistant bacteria, it’s safe in mammals, and enemy cells weren’t easily able to develop resistance to it. And the microbes that produce it were discovered in the soil of one of the study authors’ backyards.