Impact And Threat Of Antibiotic Resistance

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Impact and Threat of Antibiotic Resistance
Antibiotics are one of the human races’ most profound discoveries and achievements of all time in modern medicine. It was discovered by Alexander Fleming, a bacteriologist, in 1928, when he noticed that after leaving a few petri dishes of growing bacteria on their own for a couple of days, mold had begun to grow. Around these patches of mold, he realized that there was a definitive area in which the growth of bacteria became inhibited and even completely stopped all together. Therefore, all efforts were poured into extracting this chemical that miraculously stunted the growth of bacteria. So, the first antibiotic, Penicillin, began to save countless lives. Thus the start of the “Age of Antibiotics”
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Anthony D. Harris, Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine at The University of Maryland, antibiotic resistance can occur in multiple ways, but the most common is the incorporation of foreign DNA into the bacteria 's plasmid, a small, circular, easily manipulated strand of DNA (“Antibiotic Resistance” par. 1). Bacteria utilize foreign DNA to become not only resistant to a single antibiotic but also to a group of chemically similar antibiotics. The more hardy strains of bacteria have a protective outer layer called a capsule. Bacterial capsules are primarily constructed out of protein, the main target of antibiotics. Antibiotics work by interrupting the synthesis of these proteins within the bacteria and, in turn, eliminate the protective outer layer. Bacterial cells will change the protein that makes up the capsule, preventing antibiotics from doing their job. Other bacteria will alter the tertiary, or three dimensional, structure of proteins that prevent antibiotics from binding to them. Other, more elusive bacteria contain proteins that pump antibiotics out of the cell, or produce enzymes that digest the antibiotics before they can damage the cell (Harris par. 3). Dr. Harris states that “Bacteria reproduce at such a rapid rate, maybe every 20 minutes, which increases the chances that a genetic mutation can occur. A bacterial infection is caused by hundreds of millions of bacteria, and some bacteria are likely to carry antibiotic-resistant traits that result from random mutations” (par. 2). The versatility of bacteria makes them both a worthy and a difficult adversary in the war on antibiotic

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