The (in)finite battle: Humans vs Bacteria

Hello Everyone,

This week, I want to discuss a topic with you guys that should be discussed far more on a global scale as this subject is of very pressing nature towards society and human healthcare (in Dutch we would say: het is vijf voor twaalf!).

To begin my story, I was doing some regular labwork in which I have to work with antibiotics (they are used as selection markers for cloning target DNA) and last week I had a little bit of discussion about antibiotics with a friend of mine who works in the (clinical) medicine world specialized in bacterial and virus analyses. Basically his message and the message I want to emphasize this week is: the battle between antibiotics and bacteria is a ticking timebomb with a much shorter fuse than we all think.
Today we use antibiotics for everything. Time is money meaning we have to be fast and efficient in everything, why not for curing diseases, right? If we have a cold, people get antibiotics, if we have a seasonal influenza (flu), just get a prescription from the nearest doctor and get your antibiotics. While this is indeed efficient and fast, we are in fact destroying our own arms versus bacteria because we use them for everything and bacteria are “learning” how to beat our arms. The phenomenon, natural selection is making bacteria more resistant to our antibiotics such as penicillin and its different forms every day.
Ofcourse we are developping and inventing new antibiotics as we speak however the resources are not infinite. We (people in general) but certainly also doctors should really be more careful about what treatments we use and opt for alternatives if available (do you know any?), else bacteria will take the upper hand on us, sooner than you think!
I strongly advice you to take a look at the video below in which this man explains the gravity of this problem!

To end this blog, here’s a nice quote and analogy from the video below: “We are playing a game, a game called co-evolution, and co-evolution in this case can be compared with the co-evolution of cheetahs and gazelles. Cheetahs have been evolving to run faster because else they wouldn’t get any lunch, gazelles have also been evolving to run faster because else they would be lunch. So this is the game we are playing against bacteria, however we are the gazelles.”

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3 gedachten over “The (in)finite battle: Humans vs Bacteria

  1. I totally share my opinion with yours. Nowadays even for the most ridiculous disease (as you have mentioned in your post) people are getting medicine to feel better as fast as possible. However, I have always learned that a good rest is the best medicine to get better and should be embraced by the doctors in my opinion.
    Despite the fact that I know I cannot do it on my own, I try to take as less as possible medicines to postpone the period where we have to start all over again by developing new antibiotics. The use of antibiotics shouldn’t totally be banished in the medical world, but only used when it is necessary to save someone’s live.
    The video in attachment does also give a nice overview of the problems of overusing antibiotics and possible solutions. The solutions that he has put in front to face this problem, might work with some help of other instances. His word should actually be spread around the world to help solving this problem. However, I think that nobody will folow his lead, because we – as humans – are always trying to solve a problem when it is really facing us which isn’t really the case at the moment. Is is unfortunately in our genome to handle like that. Consequently, this might be too late to be sure that we are one step ahead.

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    • Yes, our generation will probably be able to stay one step ahead of bacteria but I have doubts for the next generation if we keep going like the way we are doing right now. As you said, we (society) usually only take action when it’s too late. Something allways has to happen before we do anything. F.e. raise security when something terrible happened, while it’s actually to late then and has happened allready. Ofcourse we can’t factor in everything, but this antibiotics matter is starting to get a real problem we can do something about now before it gets out of hand and yet we are doing basically nothing. That’s why I think its important to emphasize this and inform people about this. Ofcourse I’m just a small fish in the big sea and won’t get heard but if alot of people start realising this, alot of small fish can appear to be a very big one.

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  2. I never thought about this to be honest. One of my parents is a nurse and when I’m sick I always consult him before going to a doctor and after I went to the doctor. That way I am sure I do not take medicines I do not really need but are simply prescribed for my comfort.

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