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posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday December 05, @02:51PM   Printer-friendly
from the deja-vu-all-before-again dept.

We've been told its all our fault that antibiotic drugs are losing the arms race to bacteria. We tend to over use the drugs, and the bacteria tend to develop immunity.

However, a story in Ars Technica suggests we aren't just one step ahead, we may actually be a couple steps behind the bacteria:

Genetic analyses of 288 bacterial isolates collected between 1911 and 1969 from 31 countries show that Salmonella developed resistance to an antibiotic several years before that drug even hit the market. The finding suggests that the diarrhea-causing bacteria were somehow primed to withstand the semi-synthetic antibiotic ampicillin before doctors could prescribe it in the early 1960s. Thus, overuse in humans didn't drive the emergence of that resistance.

Instead, the authors speculate that overuse of a related antibiotic—penicillin G—in animals may be to blame.

[...] "Although our study cannot identify a causal link between the use of penicillin G and the emergence of transmissible ampicillin-resistance in livestock, our results suggest that the non-clinical use of penicillins like [penicillin G] may have encouraged the evolution of resistance genes in the late 1950s," Weill said in a press statement.


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  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday December 05, @02:59PM (3 children)

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @02:59PM (#605646)

    Using antibiotics is stupid; should have used Thiotimoline, the only substance capable of beating bacteria in the chronochemestry game.

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by takyon on Tuesday December 05, @03:14PM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Tuesday December 05, @03:14PM (#605655) Journal

      Let's switch to probiotics. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @03:27PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @03:27PM (#605665)

        They just leave their houses open 24/7; there's basically no distinction between "outside" and "inside", except for the presence of a roof.

        Perhaps what people really need at the moment is a global culture that better respects cleanliness, quarantine, and order.

        Do-gooders have found that it's not enough to deliver clean water to people in the 3rd world; they just fill up nasty buckets, wash their hands in it, and then drink from it.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @09:41PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @09:41PM (#605837)

      should have used Thiotimoline

      They tried, but getting enough flux capacitors to manufacture it proved too difficult.

  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @03:17PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @03:17PM (#605658)

    The uncivilized little beasties do not care about patents and trademarks! Their protections trash a chemical no matter how many clever names our marketers invent to sell it under! The horror!!!

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by CoolHand on Tuesday December 05, @03:41PM (22 children)

    by CoolHand (438) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @03:41PM (#605672)

    Instead, the authors speculate that overuse of a related antibiotic—penicillin G—in animals may be to blame.

    I just had this argument with someone the other day. Factory farming (CAFO's) are a huge issue with their usage of antibiotics to keep the frankenstein animals they've created healthy in overcrowded environments. Their prophylactic usage of antibiotics is one of MANY issues they create. There are not enough people that are taking this seriously.

    --
    Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job-Douglas Adams
    • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Tuesday December 05, @03:49PM (12 children)

      by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @03:49PM (#605675)

      Don't worry, it'll be a self-correcting problem.

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by CoolHand on Tuesday December 05, @04:14PM (11 children)

        by CoolHand (438) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @04:14PM (#605684)

        Don't worry, it'll be a self-correcting problem.

        Yeah, I know, THAT is what I'm worried about..

        --
        Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job-Douglas Adams
        • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Tuesday December 05, @05:02PM (10 children)

          by HiThere (866) on Tuesday December 05, @05:02PM (#605707)

          I thought Zaphod Beeblebrox was a great president. A lot better than several recent ones.

          --
          Put not your faith in princes.
          • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday December 05, @05:35PM

            by DannyB (5839) on Tuesday December 05, @05:35PM (#605721)

            While Zaphod could sign executive orders without reading or understanding them, at least Zaphod could speak in complete sentences.

          • (Score: 4, Funny) by Sourcery42 on Tuesday December 05, @05:57PM (8 children)

            by Sourcery42 (6400) on Tuesday December 05, @05:57PM (#605728)

            That just gave me a quick vision of realDonald going full Zaphod. He steals Air Force One and defects to Russia once the investigation starts works its way up the chain to him. Maybe he'll even sprout another head without that weird orange thing going on. What do you think? Hmmm, another random thought: Melania Gallumbits.

            • (Score: 4, Informative) by DeathMonkey on Tuesday December 05, @06:39PM

              by DeathMonkey (1380) on Tuesday December 05, @06:39PM (#605745) Journal

              Maybe he'll even sprout another head...

              Well, he certainly has enough chins to support additional heads.

            • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday December 05, @08:02PM (6 children)

              by DannyB (5839) on Tuesday December 05, @08:02PM (#605787)

              I want to see Trump do the "president Clark" thing from Babylon 5.

              Dissolve Congress. Send the military to secure the capitol building, evict all congress and their staffs, and surround and blockade the building.

              Bring the judiciary branch under the executive branch and bound by its tweets which shall have the force of law.

              Get rid of burdensome laws such as statutory rape.

              Get Bannon to rewrite the constitution. Because Trump can't read or write for himself.

              That would be a good start. I'll get the popcorn.

              Seriously. I do not look forward to government failure. God help us all.

              • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Tuesday December 05, @08:28PM (5 children)

                by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @08:28PM (#605800)

                "Every nation gets the government it deserves." - Joseph de Maistre

                • (Score: 3, Informative) by Azuma Hazuki on Tuesday December 05, @08:41PM (4 children)

                  by Azuma Hazuki (5086) on Tuesday December 05, @08:41PM (#605803)

                  That is bullshit and you know it. Are you telling me that, for example, Chile *deserved* Pinochet? Because, if you know your history, that little debacle was caused by US interference.

                  • (Score: 2, Disagree) by Grishnakh on Tuesday December 05, @08:56PM (2 children)

                    by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @08:56PM (#605810)

                    No, it's not bullshit at all, it's completely true. There are few exceptions, mainly nations where a much more militarily powerful nation actually invaded and occupied the place. In that case, the people of the nation can't really be blamed because they didn't choose that government, a bunch of hostile outsiders did. In every other case, the people chose the government one way or another.

                    Yes, Chile deserved Pinochet. He wasn't installed there by the US military during occupation was he? No. He was Chilean, and he was kept in power by many other Chileans who either actively worked to keep him in power and do his bidding, or at least tolerated him. It is like this for every government that isn't some foreign puppet government.

                    The only time you have a real gray area is when there is foreign military involvement, for instance with the Iraqi government after the fall of Hussein (as that government was in fact set up by the occupiers), up until the US pulled out, and possibly now as long as there's some US military presence. This simply is not the case with many other autocrats: Pinochet (AFAIK) was not installed by US military intervention, Spain's Franco was completely a product of internal dealings, Hitler too was entirely the German peoples' fault, same with Stalin, same with Pol Pot, etc.

                    People who dispute this statement are people who refuse to accept responsibility for a problem they had a hand in creating.

                    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @09:33PM (1 child)

                      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @09:33PM (#605829)

                      Pinochet dropped commies from helicopters. He and Franco were the only two notable non-leftist dictators in modern history.

                      Trump has 3 personal helicopters, plus all the military ones, but does he use them? Barely! Antifa should be getting helicopter rides. Obama and his entire cabinet needs helicopter rides. Sotomeyer and Kagen need helicopter rides. Half of congress needs helicopter rides. Also one for aristarchus.

                      • (Score: 2) by Azuma Hazuki on Wednesday December 06, @08:27PM

                        by Azuma Hazuki (5086) on Wednesday December 06, @08:27PM (#606368)

                        This is a poor troll. I would suggest you get a helicopter ride for it, except I'm pretty sure the poor whirlybird wouldn't be able to take off with you in it...

                  • (Score: 2) by unauthorized on Wednesday December 06, @01:54AM

                    by unauthorized (3776) on Wednesday December 06, @01:54AM (#605944)

                    Unless the government is violently imposed through violent conquest, yes.

                    Political apathy and ignorance are the primary reasons terrible governments rise in the first place. I preach a lot about the important of political consciousness because I believe this is the cornerstone of free and liberal[1] society, yet everywhere I turn I get dismissive "common sense" responses about how "we can't do anything" or "that doesn't directly impact my life". People who hold such attitudes deserve any government they get, because they allow said government all the power it can usurp.

                    There are only two currencies with which you can buy freedom - eternal vigilance or blood. If you don't choose the former, you will have to pay the later sooner or later, least you lose yours. Maybe not you specifically, but your descendants certainly would.

                    [1] Since I'm speaking to a bunch of Americans, I should point out that I mean "liberal" as in the political science term, not the ass-backwards US colloquialism.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Wootery on Tuesday December 05, @03:57PM (1 child)

      by Wootery (2341) on Tuesday December 05, @03:57PM (#605679)

      There are not enough people that are taking this seriously.

      Indeed - we're living in the golden age of antibiotics, and if things don't change the door might close forever.

      It's like the way we waste helium putting it into balloons. Once it's gone, it's gone.

      • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Tuesday December 05, @05:05PM

        by HiThere (866) on Tuesday December 05, @05:05PM (#605708)

        Nope. There will be alternatives to antibiotics...though they may take awhile to show up. I'm expecting custom tailored bacteria to be the replacement, but expect problems getting them designed and approved...and they'll have their own problems.

        Helium, however, is gone from Earth. We'll need to mine is somewhere else. Jupiter? Titan? Somewhere. And that will significantly raise the cost.

        --
        Put not your faith in princes.
    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @04:08PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @04:08PM (#605681)

      Cross-resistance is a problem. When a resistance to an antibiotic evolves, it often works decently with many antibiotics. Typically one of the molecular pumps that eliminates undesired molecules has gotten mutated to get rid of molecules with a certain feature, that feature being what matters. Other times, the thing upon which the drug acts will have changed, and this stops many drugs from targeting that thing.

      Cross-border organisms are a problem. It does us no good to go all organic when Mexico and China and India are using antibiotics on farm animals with wild abandon. Organisms do not stay put.

      An environment with antibiotics will very rapidly select for resistance. An environment without antibiotics will select for non-resistance, due to the cost of having resistance, but normally this is very slow. Once we screw up, getting the world back to a better state is not easy or fast. The best we could do is to spray non-resistant stuff everywhere, but there are so many types of organisms and they even share resistance plasmids.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by HiThere on Tuesday December 05, @05:17PM

        by HiThere (866) on Tuesday December 05, @05:17PM (#605714)

        Everything you say is correct, but you still don't understand the real problem. People talk as if these are "new mutations", but generally they aren't. Antibiotics evolved as bacteria-on-bacteria weapons, and defenses against them evolved in lock-step. The thing is, they used to be low frequency alleles. They didn't provide that much benefit. Once they start providing a lot of benefit (say you kill off their competition) their frequency increases markedly. And it doesn't quickly go down when the selection pressure eases. The things aren't generally that expensive to run, they just didn't provide much advantage. (Yes, there are exceptions to this rule.) So you need to remove the stressor for long enough for random mutation to disable it in most of the population, the way eyes degrade in cave fish...it's a genetic drunkards walk with a low mutational frequency. (Well, bacteria mutate a lot more frequently than mammals do, but there's also a huge population of them, and they don't undergo meiosis, so genes don't just get lost in the shuffle.)

        Another contributory factor is that many bacteria freely share genes...even across species, and probably across phyla. It also happens with larger animals and plants, but a *lot* less frequently, and usually a virus needs to act as an intermediary. But this means that lots of these defenses are mobile between species of bacteria.

        Note: I'm not a biologist. If you want details, talk to someone else. But the facts they tell you will include the ones I mentioned.

        --
        Put not your faith in princes.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @04:28PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @04:28PM (#605691)

      Not just that a good sized farm uses more antibiotics than a hospital but that they create a perfect breeding environment in the cesspool for which the bacteria to adapt. Full of many fresh antibiotics.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday December 05, @05:37PM (1 child)

      by DannyB (5839) on Tuesday December 05, @05:37PM (#605722)

      The only anti-vaxers should be those who produce livestock for food.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by cmdrklarg on Tuesday December 05, @06:20PM

        by cmdrklarg (5048) on Tuesday December 05, @06:20PM (#605736)

        Providing protection vs. disease with vaccinations is much preferable to using antibiotics. So no, an anti-vaxxer is the LAST person I want growing my food.

        --
        THE SOFTWARE, IT NO WORKY!
    • (Score: 2) by NewNic on Tuesday December 05, @07:29PM (1 child)

      by NewNic (6420) on Tuesday December 05, @07:29PM (#605771)

      Factory farming (CAFO's) are a huge issue with their usage of antibiotics to keep the frankenstein animals they've created healthy in overcrowded environments.

      The really interesting thing about this is that the evidence that there is a financial benefit from using the antibiotics is thin to non-existent. It's a triumph of marketing by the pharma companies.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @09:52PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @09:52PM (#605842)

        The more people doing it, the worse public distrust builds up for everything related. And that includes real problems.

        The really interesting thing about this is that the evidence that there is a financial benefit from using the antibiotics is thin to non-existent.

        The manufacturers of that "evidence" should take their toys and go hide somewhere, to never soil the name of science again. Because it is widely known and proven a hundred times over in numerous animal species including man, that gut flora distorted by antibiotics promotes accumulation of fat.

        You can argue any kind of harm from antibiotics abuse in livestock, but trying to sell the idea that larger slaughter weight for the same amount of feed is somehow not a financial benefit, is beyond stupid; it's self-destructive.

  • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Tuesday December 05, @03:48PM (2 children)

    by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @03:48PM (#605674)

    I, for one, welcome our new bacteria overlords.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by rleigh on Tuesday December 05, @04:42PM

    by rleigh (4887) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @04:42PM (#605696) Homepage

    Is this surprising? Every antibiotic we have evolved naturally. All we did was discover what nature already evolved to tackle bacteria, and isolated and refined them, later with some additional modifications to combat resistance. It's not at all surprising that resistance already exists, because bacteria were already exposed to naturally occurring antibiotics for millennia and evolved to cope with them. While they might take a few generations to evolve resistance to the latest synthetic variants, they already have the resistance genes to the unmodified naturally occurring precursor and so it's only a few mutations away from developing full resistance. While overuse of antibiotics will spread the resistance genes further, it's not like they are that rare in nature in the first place that they wouldn't be quickly selected for.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Azuma Hazuki on Tuesday December 05, @08:44PM (1 child)

    by Azuma Hazuki (5086) on Tuesday December 05, @08:44PM (#605805)

    One of the mutations causing massive headaches in the medical world is for a enzyme called beta-lactamase, which is capable of breaking down the beta-lactam ring of several important antibiotics.

    While it may not be, as quoted, "*that* expensive" to keep a functioning beta lactamase gene around, what about exhausting the bacterias' ability to produce the enzyme? I'm thinking of an IV drip of something inert but with a beta-lactam ring in it, to exhaust all the enzyme, followed by the actual antibiotic itself when the bugs are all emptied out.

    This is such a simple and obvious idea that I'm sure it's been thought of already and rejected for some reason or another, else we'd see it happening more. Can anyone with expertise in this area comment?

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by rleigh on Tuesday December 05, @09:40PM

      by rleigh (4887) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @09:40PM (#605836) Homepage

      It might be slightly beneficial, but enzymes aren't single-use, they are reusable catalysts. So adding in an antibiotic analogue could modify the kinetics though competition for the enzyme's active site, which would increase the effective biological half-life of the antibiotic molecules, but you aren't going to exhaust the enzymes themselves at all, since they will persist. It might be enough to have a positive effect, but I suspect it's overall not sufficiently helpful to make it worthwhile.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @09:39PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @09:39PM (#605834)

    What about low doses of lots of existing antibiotics? Often cells have to evolve fairly elaborate and resource-intensive work-arounds to each antibiotic, and if a strain has to use dozens of work-arounds to survive, the metabolism needed for all that extra work will slow its progress to a crawl, allowing a human immune system to catch up.

  • (Score: 2) by Pav on Tuesday December 05, @11:15PM

    by Pav (114) on Tuesday December 05, @11:15PM (#605877)

    Bacteriophages (basically viruses that attack bacteria) have been used in eastern europe as an alternative to antibiotics. I believe there have been legislative roadblocks put up to stop their use in the west which make them impractical to use in practice ie. every strain of bacteriophages require an individual testing and approval regime as if it were a drug. Very many strains of bacteriophage are required to attack even a single species of bacteria (eg. staph. aureus) as different subtypes have very specific vulnerabilities and resistances.

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