Preventing germs cooperation can effectively delay drug resistance

November 21st, 2008 - 4:28 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, November 21 (ANI): The evolution of drug resistance can be effectively delayed by preventing germs from cooperating rather than killing them one by one with the aid of drugs like antibiotics, according to a new study.
John W. Pepper, of The University of Arizona in Tucson, says that most medicines used to fight infections kill the vulnerable disease-causing organisms, or pathogens, but the resistant ones survive.
He says that the next generation of germs will all carry the resistance to the drug.
“We know that the pathogen is causing the disease. The obvious solution is to kill the pathogen. It makes perfect sense, and that’’s what we”ve always done. But there’’s one big flaw with that — and that is the evolution of resistance,” said Pepper, a UA assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.
The researcher has created a mathematical model that shows that it takes longer for a group of cells to develop resistance to drugs that attack the teamwork factors than for individual cells to become resistant to a traditional antibiotic.
He says that there is a need to develop medicines that attack the pathogens” methods and resources for cooperation because once their teamwork is disrupted, the immune system can combat any remaining infection.
Pepper believes that his approach can help fight against “old enemies and some new ones” that are becoming drug resistant, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (MRSA), HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, avian influenza and cancer.
A research paper, scheduled for publication in the December issue of the journal Evolution, reveals that Pepper began investigating cooperation by studying parrots and dolphins, and that he presently studies cooperation among individual cells.
If drug development continues to focus on killing individual cells, he said, “We”re going to be in this situation where we desperately need a new antibiotic by tomorrow, or maybe by yesterday.”
“That’’s not going to be a temporary emergency — it’’s going to be a permanent emergency, unless we take a new approach,” Pepper added. (ANI)

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