Combination of Antibiotics May Promote Resistance, Study Finds

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A team of researchers from the Hebrew University, and Shaare Zedek Medical Centre Jerusalem, has found evidence that suggests administering combinations of antibiotics to patients with bacterial infections might be promoting resistance transmission.

In their paper published in the journal Science, the group described their research on patients with bacterial infections and what they learned.

According to the journal, the report showed over the past years revealed that disease-promoting bacteria have evolved resistance to many antibiotic agents. Due to this, doctors have been giving patients multiple kinds of antibiotics with the hope that at least one of them will kill the bacteria. But now, it seems this practice might be making things worse in the long run. They found that it can lead to an increase in resistance to the drugs in combination therapies.

Combination of Antibiotics May Promote Resistance, Study Finds
Combination of Antibiotics May Promote Resistance, Study Finds

To investigate the issue, the researchers studied a patient with a blood infection of the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. The patient was given vancomycin; an antibiotic (trade name Vancocin) effective against some bacterial infections, and when that did not quash it, the doctors’ added rifampicin. After eight days, the doctors replaced vancomycin with daptomycin; a lipopeptide antibiotic used in the treatment of systemic and life-threatening infections caused by gram-positive organisms.

As the patient was being treated, the researchers took blood samples to determine how well the treatment was working, but it also allowed the researchers to test the tolerance level of the microbes individually and directly against all of the drugs that were used to treat the patient.

They found that after giving the patient the combination of drugs, the bacteria were killed more slowly by daptomycin. They also noted that a reduction in killing speed indicates an evolutionary step toward resistance. The researchers also carried out additional tests with other kinds of infections, and report finding the same results.

They suggested that giving patients combinations of antibiotics is making bacteria develop resistance to the drugs that still work. They next plan to study the effect in patients infected with different types of bacteria.

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