It’s no secret: antibiotic resistance has become a growing threat around the world.
An estimated 23,000 Americans died in 2013 from bacterial infections that didn’t respond to antibiotics, and it’s getting to the point where gonorrhea may soon become untreatable, and bacteria have even begun developing resistance against antibiotics that are used as last resorts.
To illustrate just how quickly bacteria evolve to develop resistance, researchers at Harvard Medical School set up essentially a huge petri dish.
They then lined the dish with varying strengths of the antibiotic trimethoprim, starting with a strength that’s just a bit stronger than what E. coli could handle. After the bacteria (the white stuff) had a chance to grow in the area without any antibiotics, a mutant starts to appear in the first band of antibiotics.
More bacteria continue to mutate and methodically creep their way through the increasing strengths of antibiotics.
By the end of the 10 days, the bacteria have mutated their way into a dose of trimethoprim that’s 1,000 times stronger than the original dose.
So the same bugs that at first had a hard time fighting off even just the lowest dose of the antibiotic had in just a little over a week, found a way to make themselves 1,000 times as strong. It’s a worrying sign, since developing new antibiotics to tackle mutant bugs is incredibly tricky, and resistance can develop before a drug even gets approved.
Watch the full, terrifying, video:
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