Many of us are aware of the risks of taking too many antibiotics. We’re often hearing that overuse can lead to bacteria developing antibiotic resistance. Many have probably had a situation where one type of antibiotic didn’t resolve an infection, leading to needing a different, stronger type. Even more of a concern is that previously mild infections could turn deadly if antibiotics lose their effectiveness. But Israeli researchers are once again offering us hope. Scientists at the Technion Institute in Haifa are currently developing personalized antibiotic treatment. Prescribing specific antibiotics based on the patient might be just the solution we need.
Studies on urinary tract infections
More than half of women during their lifetime will suffer from one or many urinary tract infections. Looking at genetic mapping of bacterial resistance, scientists can see something. They can see that resistance levels to antibiotics were different for each patient. While one antibiotic works for one patient, it won’t be effective in another.
How is this information predicted? Demographic data combined with previous urine cultures and drug history help researchers. They can use it to predict levels of bacteria resistance for infection. As such, they have developed a system which can help doctors find the best antibiotic for a particular patient. Using the technology could reduce the chances of using the wrong antibiotic by about 40%.
A breakthrough for personalized medicine
This is a huge breakthrough for personalized medicine. Tailoring medicine towards the individual is certainly the way to go. Currently, most medical practices are aimed towards the average. There is a certain standard of care which is applied based on clinical trials. But personalized medicine aims to manage our health based on specific things. For example, our family history, age, gender, weight, height, environment and medical history.
Health care professionals are focusing on using data to present real-time recommendations as to which drug is best.
Having personalized antibiotics is a huge step in this direction. This is especially so since some 3000-5000 patients die each year in Israel due to being infected by antibiotic resistant bacteria. In the US, it is estimated that approximately 2 million people suffer from an antibiotic-resistant infection. As a result of the infection, 23,000 of these people die each year.
Antibiotic resistance is one of the largest threats to global health. It can affect anyone, at any age, and in any country. While it can occur naturally, it is most often due to the misuse of antibiotics on both humans and animals. Pneumonia and tuberculosis are examples of infections that are becoming harder to treat with antibiotics.
Antibiotic resistance also obviously leads to longer hospital stays. Longer hospital stays mean an increased risk of further infection and higher medical costs. Patients can help reduce the spread of antibiotic resistance. How? By only using antibiotics prescribed by a health care professional. Also by not requesting them if there isn’t a need. It’s important to never share antibiotics or use leftover medication. Regularly washing hands, avoiding contact with the sick. And keeping vaccinations up to date also help to prevent infections.
With this development, scientists are hopeful they will be able to decrease antibiotic resistance. It will also pave the way for more AI methods in other medical fields.