Antibiotic resistance is a growing issue. It's become a leading health crisis for our time. Drugs that were once reliable treatment options have been rendered nearly obsolete in a clinical setting. As a result, 10 million lives are at risk each year. However, probiotics may provide the solution doctors have been looking for.
Dangers of Resistant Bacterial Infections
Antibiotics such as oxacillin, dicloxacillin, and flucloxacillin are no longer effective against MRSA, (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), bacterial infections. Most people simply call these staph infections. They can occur in people of any age and are extremely painful. Surgery patients and the elderly are especially susceptible.
This is because the bacteria mostly infect wounded areas. They can be red, swollen, and pus-filled. Oftentimes, they require lancing to drain the area of fluid. In serious cases, staph infections enter the bloodstream and cause sepsis. This can be deadly.
Several lethal superbugs have evolved over the years. This is due to the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. That's where probiotics come in.
The Promise of Probiotics
Probiotics are known as good bacteria. These living microorganisms benefit the flora in your stomach. They come in several forms, but most people consume them as supplements. They enhance digestion, skin disorders, and allergy resistance.
Now, researchers are discovering that they can also help treat dangerous superbugs like MRSA. They've pinned down a specific bacterium in fact. It's known as Bacillus, and it's giving hope to researchers at the NIAID, (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases).
The director at the NIAID is Dr. Anthony S. Fauci. He explains that this is one of the first studies that prove how effective this alternative is against resistant bacteria.
How Probiotics Help Treat Superbugs
Nature is a journal that recently published the findings of their study. Around 200 people were brought in from the countryside of Thailand. This is because they're less affected by antibiotic abuse and use in food sources.
They began by trying to pinpoint the exact bacteria that would prevent staph from forming. This was completed by analyzing fecal samples to create a bacterial profile of each participant.
That's when they found it. The samples that contained Bacillus did not show any signs of Staphylococcus aureus. In contrast, samples with Staphylococcus aureus did not contain any Bacillus.
This occurs since Bacillus produces fengycins. These molecules prevent the colonization of several Staphylococcus strains. Thankfully, this includes MRSA.
One of the main goals of this treatment is to stop the growth of superbugs and not to kill them. As a result, they become ineffective. A team in Cleveland Ohio studied this idea.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine experimented on mice that were infected with MRSA. They treated those mice with small molecules. They survived the process and seemed to be cured. On the other hand, most of the mice that were left untreated did not survive.
A journal known as Scientific Reports recently published their study. Additional information revealed that those tiny molecules were also able to help antibiotics work more effectively.
Menachem Shoham works at Case Western as a professor of biochemistry. He believes that healthy patients could be cured of MRSA with this new treatment option. Now, patients that are weaker would benefit from dual therapy with low-dose antibiotics and molecular treatment.
Other types of infections could be treated this way. Further research proved that these molecules may be used against a wide spectrum of bacteria. This includes those that cause strep-throat and catheter infections.
Antibiotic-resistant infections like MRSA cause around 23,000 deaths in the United States every year. They're painful and often affect the most vulnerable of us all. Probiotics could help fight this global epidemic. This promising new research proves that. Though more studies are needed, this could be the answer the world has been waiting for.