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Forewarned is forearmed: helping antibiotics fight resistant bacteria

Scientists have advanced in the fight against a bacterium that causes nosocomial infections.

Scientists have advanced in the fight against a bacterium that causes nosocomial infections.

A photo: Shutterstock

Research results published in the official journal of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Sciences – European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

One of the most difficult problems of modern medicine is the increasing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics. The number of strains of pathogenic microbes that are not affected by antibiotics is increasing every year. Many of these bacteria can cause serious illness in humans.

The most famous of these microscopic enemies is Klebsiella pneumoniae (Klebsiella pneumonia, Friedlander’s bacillus). This small bacterium is found almost everywhere and in most cases does not pose a threat to ordinary people. However, the situation changes for the worse when it comes to a person with a weakened immune system, for example, infected with another infection. Once in a vulnerable organism, Klebsiella can cause various diseases, the most common of which is pneumonia. Recently, an increasing number of strains of this bacterium have been found that are resistant to most of the available antibiotics. In addition, this bacterium is one of the main causes of nosocomial infections.

A group of scientists from Russia and France studied the possibility of counteracting such pathogens using a drug based on technologically processed antibodies.

Several groups of mice were infected with different doses of bacteria. While the lowest doses resulted only in weight loss in sick animals, the administration of large doses resulted in death. Several treatment options were tested in this model.

As a positive control, gentamicin, an antibiotic that suppresses the Klebsiella strain that infected mice, was used in the study. The antibiotic amoxicillin, to which these bacteria are immune, was used as a negative control. In the study group, an experimental preparation was added to non-working amoxicillin, which is a solution of technologically processed antibodies to the histocompatibility complex. This complex is a complex system of genes and associated proteins that perform extensive functions in the body’s immune system. These functions include recognition of own and foreign cells. That is why the scientists suggested that the use of a drug based on technologically processed antibodies to the histocompatibility complex can lead to an increase in the severity of the animals’ immune response to the introduced pathogen.

The effectiveness of therapy was assessed by the survival of animals, as well as by the change in their weight during the course of the disease. Weight loss is a standard measure of the severity of a body-borne disease. Mice that received an ineffective antibiotic along with the drug survived almost as often as mice that were treated with an effective antibiotic. In groups of mice that were weakly infected, the therapeutic effect was expressed in the preservation of weight. Thus, using a solution of technologically processed antibodies to the histocompatibility complex, it was possible to enhance the effect of the antibiotic on bacteria.

After such promising results, scientists tested the effect of antibiotics on bacteria directly by adding them to cultures outside the body. Effective gentamicin did indeed stop the growth of colonies, while amoxicillin, administered together with the study drug, did not slow down the growth of pathogenic microbes. This proves that the solution of technologically processed antibodies has an effect precisely through the regulation of the response of the immune system to infection, without directly inhibiting the growth of bacteria.

The results of this scientific work are important for the development of new approaches to the treatment of infections caused by bacteria resistant to conventional antibiotics.

In the meantime, while scientists continue to work on new drugs, remember that one of the best ways to avoid getting pneumonia is to keep your immune system on full alert. And wash your hands more often.

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