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Antibiotics and antibacterials can do more damage than good when they: kill good bacteria inside the human body destroy microbes that clean up pollution lead to antibiotic resistance in microorganisms make treatment of some diseases difficult when overused Dr Maura Meade-Callahan PhD presents a summary article to explain further.

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Comment: It’s common knowledge that a protective navy of bacteria normally floats in our intestinal tracts. Antibiotics at least temporarily disturb the normal balance. But it’s unclear which antibiotics are the most disruptive, and if the full array of “good bacteria” return promptly or remain altered for some time. In studies in mice, University of Michigan scientists have shown for the first time that two different types of antibiotics can cause moderate to wide-ranging changes in the ranks of these helpful guardians in the gut. In the case of one of the antibiotics, the armada of “good bacteria” did not recover its former diversity even many weeks after a course of antibiotics was over.

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Most clinically useful antibiotics exhibit their selective toxicity by specifically blocking one or another type of bacterial macromolecular synthesis (e.g.protein, nucleic acid or cell wall synthesis) — acting on targets that are not present or accessible in animal/human cells. Since the 1940s, when drugs such as penicillin, streptomycin, and chloramphenicol were introduced widely as “miraculous” agents for treating bacterial infections, the emergence of strains resistant to these and subsequently-developed drugs has represented a continuing clinical challenge. The eventual appearance of strains simultaneously resistant to multiple antibiotics significantly worsened the problem. The latter was found to involve different resistance genes linked to each other on segments of DNA able to move efficiently from one bacterial cell to another by phenomena known as horizontal gene transfer (HGT).

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