RESEARCHERS have found that as some bacteria develop resistance to one antibiotic, they can develop sensitivity to another at the same time.
Switching between these antibiotics may be one way of responding to growing antibiotic resistance.
However, the researchers behind the present study show that very few bacteria operate in this way, suggesting that antibiotic cycling has a limited value.
In a new study, researchers have shown that antibiotic cycling — which involves doctors switching between antibiotics to overcome antibiotic resistance — may be an ineffective and unsustainable strategy.
However, in their study, which appears in The Lancet Microbe, the researchers did find that some subpopulations of bacteria may be appropriate for antibiotic cycling, in limited cases.
Antibiotics are crucial for treating and preventing bacterial infections.
The use of microorganisms to protect against infections has been documented in ancient China, Greece, and Egypt, while the modern use of antibiotics began following Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin in 1928Trusted Source.
Today, however, bacterial resistance to antibiotics is a serious, growing health issue. The World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source describes antibiotic resistance as “one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.”
Bacteria are likely to develop resistance as antibiotics are used. However, the growing prevalence of resistant bacteria results from a range of modifiable factors.
ResearchersTrusted Source have found that antibiotic resistance has been exacerbated by the overuse of antibiotics, inappropriate prescribing, and the extensive use of these drugs in intensive livestock farming.
There is also a lack of research into new antibiotics, driven by the profit motive of the pharmaceutical industry, which encourages research into treatments for chronic illnesses over curative treatments.
According to Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United StatesTrusted Source, a 2019 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bacteria and fungi resistant to antibiotics cause the deaths of around 35,000 people each year.
Dr. Robert R. Redfield, former director of the CDC, saysTrusted Source that the report “shows us that our collective efforts to stop the spread of germs and preventing infections is saving lives.”