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Friday, October 3, 2014

Search for newer antibiotics – Crawling back to Mother Nature's Laps!

Contributed by Akilesh Ramasamy in association with A.J. Tamhankar
“Antibiotic resistance is not a threat looming over the horizon. It's here, right now ....”
- Margaret Chan, Director Genreral, WHO
BeesIn South Africa, tuberculosis resistant to all known antitubercular agents is prevalent. Multiple Drug Resistant (MDR) cases of tuberculosis is not unknown in India. Even doctors have succumbed to MDR-TB, the death of an intern from Sion Hospital due to MDR-TB in 2013 is a case in point. (News Source: TOI, 1 July, 2013) Residents, interns, nurses and even dentists of civic hospitals have been known to be victims of tuberculosis with some of them developing MDR-TB. (News Source: Mid-Day 31 Dec. 2013 )

Desperate situation calls for desperate measures perhaps and researchers are looking into unlikely avenues like depths of oceans, deserts, insects insides and other natural resources in the hope of finding antimicrobial agents. India had been way ahead in medical field even when other civilizations were just nomads in jungles. Perhaps, it is time to look back to our past and to Mother Nature looking for newer drugs.

While the issue of antibiotic resistance is taking over virtually every continent,13 lactic acid bacteria found in the honey stomach of bees have shown promising results in a series of studies at Lund University in Sweden. These bacteria counteracted even antibiotic-resistant MRSA in lab experiments. (Source: Lund University, Sweden )

Researches at the  John Innes Centre (JIC) in Norwich are exploring new unlikely avenues for the magic drugs like the bacteria extracted from the stomachs of giant stick insects and cinnabar caterpillars with a taste for highly toxic plants. Mervyn Bibb, Professor of Microbiology at JIC says that natural products have fallen out of favour with pharmaceutical industries, but added that this is the time to look again.

Meanwhile, physicians and public must awaken to the risks of irrational and irresponsible antibiotic use that is causing wide spread prevalence of antibiotic resistance and make efforts to stop the same.