A Harmful Bacteria Caused By Antibiotics, New Research Suggests

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(Newswire.net — February 24, 2015)  — According to new research published in in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, antibiotics are killing bacteria. However, antibiotics can make some bacterial groups resilient or even create a habitant for a new dangerous group of bacteria by stimulating biofilm formation.

Biofilms are communities of bacteria that form on surfaces.  For instance, medical catheters or feeding tubes in patients, explained Elizabeth Shank, assistant professor of biology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told Science Daily.

Biofilms usually are beneficial. For example, when they form on plant roots to protect them from soil contaminants. However, biofilms can be harmful. They are responsible for several difficult to treat chronic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, endocarditis and cystitis, Shank told Science Daily.

“It was never that surprising that many bacteria form biofilms in response to antibiotics: it helps them survive an attack,” Shank told Phys.org. She said that scientists always thought that this was a general stress response, a kind of non-specific side effect of antibiotics. Shank and her team discovered that it is not the stress nor the side effect. Shank discovered antibiotics are directly responsible.

“We’ve discovered an antibiotic that very specifically activates biofilm formation, and does so in a way that has nothing to do with its ability to kill.”

According to the research, biofilms may have evolved in a manner that, instead of the antibiotic killing bacteris, the antibiotics create bacteris, as if the bacteria feeds on the antibiotics.

“That suggests that antibiotics can independently and simultaneously induce potentially dangerous biofilm formation in other bacteria and that these activities may be acting through specific signaling pathways,” Shank said.

She said that the research initiated “further discussion about the evolution of antibiotic activity, and the fact that some antibiotics being used therapeutically may induce biofilm formation in a strong and specific way, which has broad implications for human health.”

Reportedly, bacteria have been starting to resist antibiotics in cases of malaria, typhoid and tuberculosis.

In addition, several studies have shown that antibiotics may be harmful for the body’s good bacteria as well, and can do damage to the healthy cells and vital functions of an organism.