Are Antibacterial Products Helping Us Get Rid of Bacteria
Science & Tech / /
Fighting bacteria using antibacterial products, despite its primer use, consequently may have other side effects. An antibacterial used in many cleaning products can actually help microbes beat even our most powerful antibiotics.
Among thomany of the antibacterial is triclosan, which is an agent so common that it can be found in consumer products, including toothpaste, soaps, detergents, toys, and surgical cleaning treatments. Its overuse may cause bacteria to become resistant to it. It is not an antibiotic but is a different type of compound, which role is to rather stop bacteria from growing instead of killing them.
The fact that it can encourage bacteria to evolve resistance could be a problem for hospitals that use antibacterial cleaning products in order to cut the spread of infections.
Petra Levin and Corey Westfall, microbiologists at Washington University in St Louis, launched an research in which they exposed Escherichia coli to common antibiotics and triclosan, and they measured their survival over 20 hours to conclude whether antibacterial can help bacteria become resistant to antibiotics.
When E. Coli was exposed to streptomycin and ciprofloxacin as well as to triclosan it was 10,000 times more likely to survive than to an example of the same bacteria which was not introduced to triclosan.
Alarmingly, further testing found that triclosan protects the MRSA superbug against vancomycin, a crucial antibiotic often used as a last resort for treating MRSA infections -- was found in the same research.
Speeding up evolution
It is not known yet why triclosan has these effects, but the explanation may be due to different ways antibiotics and antibacterial behave.
“Most antibiotics kill bacteria by interfering with essential steps in their life cycle, such as making new cell walls when a bacterium reproduces by dividing. Since triclosan prevents bacteria growing, it makes them less likely to reproduce – and that may make bacteria impervious to antibiotics,” explained the researchers.
The experiment did not yet discovered if triclosan’s ability to help bacteria be resistant to antibiotics could encourage their survival in the bodies of people who are taking antibiotics. Until more detailed information are offered, it might be recommended to reduce their exposure to triclosan while therapy of antibiotics is used. The problem is, it is very hard to do avoid them. According to Nathalie Balaban at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, triclosan is all over the place and we are not even aware of that fact.
According to New Scientists report, triclosan is known to have another negative effect. Target of the antibiotic treatment usually are all of the bacteria causing the infection, contrary the survived ones would pass on the genes that helped them resist the drugs. By enabling bacteria be persist in the presence of antibiotics, triclosan can raise microbes’ ability to become resistant to the drug. That could be a reason enough for cutting the use of triclosan.
However, there are other researchers which argue that triclosan’s use is beneficial. But on the other side there is a reason to worry that using too much triclosan could have even more serious effects.