WHAT ALTERNATIVES TO ANTIBIOTICS ARE BEING DEVELOPED?

WHAT ALTERNATIVES TO ANTIBIOTICS ARE BEING DEVELOPED?

Antibiotics have for over 70 years been an efficient way to treat bacterial contamination, but it is unfortunate that extensive use of antibiotic substances for medication and agriculture has caused antibiotic resistance. World Health Organization has even warned that humanity is almost in the post-antibiotic era when antibiotics will not have an effect and even minute illnesses will be life-threatening.

The resistant microbes are usually called superbugs.

Antimicrobial resistance develops naturally over as micro-organisms gradually adapt and reproduce. Overuse or misuses of antibiotics vastly accelerate antibiotic resistance for instance when someone takes them frequently to treat a cold or promote growth in animals reared for food.

Antibiotic resistance problem occurs after evolution and transfer of the genes that grant resistance to antibiotics into human pathogens. It complicates disease treatment, healthcare costs, morbidity and mortality when pathogen acquires such resistant genes. It becomes more precious to administer the so called antibiotic of last resort as antibiotic resistance persists. Internationally, reducing or preventing dissemination of the antibiotic resistance genes to human pathogens is highly essential. The solution lies in finding alternatives to antibiotics to reduce overuse and another way of vaccination, treatment as well as supporting the growth of animals.

ALTERNATIVES TO ANTIBIOTICS IN DEVELOPMENT

Bacteriophage therapyBacteriophage (phage) therapy is one of the antibiotic choices undergoing extensive research for disease treatment. Phage viruses infect bacteria and use of phages as a treatment for bacterial diseases has been under investigation for a long time and continued. Several phages but variable efficacy has been the reason for these therapeutic products not to penetrate other markets.

Advantages of phage therapy include efficacy on mucosal or topical infections and specificity for a target bacterial population. The disadvantages of bacteriophage therapy are that will just work when there is knowledge of target bacterium, its sufficiently high populations and the range of resistance. Therapeutic phage must be up-to-date for it to function.

ImmunotherapeuticsImmunotherapeutics is another promising intervention that involves the use of molecules that can boost the host immune system to prevent the disease at infection prone times. A granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (G-CSF) called Pegfilgrastim is one of the most successful immunotherapeutic interventions in human health for inducing neutrophil production in chemotherapeutic patients experiencing low neutrophil counts.

Maintaining an appropriate neutrophil number in blood enables the immune system to prevent infections. Immunotherapeutics also helps to boost the immune system in cattle and reduce the incidence of mastitis when exploited for agricultural purpose. Users administer pegbovigrastim, a bovine G-CSF to cattle before parturition.

An advantage of immunotherapeutics as an alternative to antibiotics is that they boost the immune system and prevent infectious diseases. A disadvantage is that they require precise timing which is extremely challenging for on-farm applications.

BioticsBiotics that can be pro-pre- or synbiotics modulate gut microbial community towards health, and they demonstrate inconsistent efficacy. Probiotics are living organisms or good bacteria for international feeding to a host Probiotics are molecular precursors that expand the presence of existing beneficial gut microbiota of a host. Synbiotics are combination prebiotics and probiotics. The purpose of this biotics is to affect the gut microbiota in a manner that improves health.

The gut microbial community of mammals’ complex consortium comprises over 500 different bacterial species. The current challenge for researchers is lack of knowledge for a precise mechanism on the contribution of each member to the health of a host. An absence of this knowledge contributes to variable results. Modulating the gut microbial community has become an alternative to the antibiotics. An investigation of the way gut bacterial interacts with one another and with the animal hosts is now an active area of research globally.

Advantages of the above approaches are that the only target the disease-causing bacterium for treatment and not other members of the beneficial microbial. They act differently from most antibiotics that attack the pathogen target together with the commensal bacteria. More development for these specific approaches by alternatives to antibiotics methods is still ongoing to improve potency, reliability, and deliverability.

Solutions to antibiotic-resistance are multifaceted because antibiotics play varying roles and one alternative cannot replace their function. Researchers need to use methods such as vaccines, immunotherapeutics and gut microbiota modulation as methods of treating and preventing illnesses.