The new biologists fashion: Bacterial Physiology- Bringing back the old stuff

November27

The “post-antibiotic era” announced by the WHO, which was an update from April-2015 of an older report [1], suggests the need to understand bacteria is urgent as it ever was. We have been sailing the winds of Fleming from his 1928 discovery of Pennicillin-G from Penicillum notatum. For long chemists (led by the ‘magic bullet’ seekers) thought this to be some “biological”, “weak” and sill floundering. It took many other discoveries to demonstrate and industrialize production of antibiotics. But evolution is catching up [2]! The shocking part is not so much that it happened, but we were caught unprepared. The ups and downs in research notwithstanding, the need for research on the fundamentals is critical. One could argue for similar directed funding.

How do we know this is not some fear-mongering? Well, for one we now have a ‘bad-guy’. Strains of Klebsiella pneuomiae have been found to be resistant to all antibiotics known to humankind [3]. That is just the start. Mix it in with horizontal gene transfer and we have a real mess on our hands.

References:

[1] Anti-Microbial Resistance, World Health Organization April 2015

[2] WHO Warns Against Post-Antibiotic Era, Nature

[3] Superbugs from Wire.in

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