Why we’re all going to die from antibiotics – unless a young Malaysian PhD student succeeds first

Girl in cemetery
Let’s hope antibiotics are NOT in our future

OK, most of us know that antibiotics kill bacteria.

Except it’s a shattering revelation to most of us that We are 90% bacteria. Only 10% of our bodies are human.

Yeah, life-saving antibiotics fight infection and make us well again.

But there’s always collateral damage. We never quite return to 100% ourselves again afterwards. Our personal bacteria are depleted or damaged.

All thanks to antibiotics.

A killer legacy

Miracle drugs they certainly have been, until now. But evidence is mounting that our unswerving faith in them may be misplaced. That they are in fact about the most deadly threat we face today.

Three major challenges they throw at us, all of them deadly:

  • Superbugs. Bacteria can and do find ways to resist antibiotics. They become immune, untreatable – life-threatening superbugs. The threat is so serious that the UN convened their first ever general assembly to address the issue only last week. Superbugs are expected to kill 10 million of us by 2050.
  • Obesity. We’re fat and getting fatter – two thirds of us are already overweight or obese.  Again, thanks to antibiotics. A staggering 240,000 tonnes are fed to livestock every year to accelerate growth and weight gain. Their manure fertilises crops, so that our entire food chain is laced with the most phenomenal growth booster ever. Our food bulks us up, we become obese, triggering diabetes, heart disease and cancer – together killing 500 million of us by 2050.
  • Famine. Farmers won’t stop feeding animals their biggest ever money-maker. Which means antibiotics on farms will nearly double in the next 15 years.  HALF A MILLION TONNES A YEAR gives bacteria plenty of practice to become superbugs. Which means widespread disease is inevitable – a collapse of the food supply to non-antibiotic levels. 6 billion of us can expect to starve to death.

More than two thirds of the world’s population gone. All thanks to antibiotics – the invincible superbugs they create, and the ballooning bodies they force on us that our systems cannot withstand.

Doom and gloom worldwide

An effective alternative

Except in a research lab at the University of Melbourne – where 25-year old PhD student Shu Lam from Batu Pahat in the state of Johor, Malaysia, is working on a game-changer.  Star-shaped molecules of peptide polymers that destroy superbugs WITHOUT antibiotics.

The star-shaped polymers rip bacteria walls apart WITHOUT harming the body. Destroying them in much the same way as oxygen atoms do outside the body – annihilating harmful germs in living spaces.

Shu Lam’s work is still in its infancy, but already the results are impressive. Effective against six strains of drug-resistant bacteria in the lab, and on one superbug in live mice.

Bacteriophages

Her work parallels the largely forgotten efforts of others looking for alternatives to antibiotics – particularly the use of bacteriophages.

Using a germ to catch a germ, phages are tightly targeted viruses that attack bacteria by injecting DNA and fragmenting their cells.

The practice of deploying viruses to kill bacteria became widely used by the Soviet Union during the Cold War – a practical alternative around embargoed Western antibiotics.

Meanwhile the rest of the world is still at committee stage, endlessly debating antimicrobial resistance while the rest of us fatten up daily.

Time to realise that antibiotics are not all they’re cracked up to be. Life-savers in an emergency, but killers long term.

Let’s hope the penny drops soon.

Two thirds of us could be dead by the time the gurus make a decision.

Picture Copyright: kreinick / 123RF Stock Photo

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Originally posted on 2 April 2019 @ 1:50 am

Originally posted on 2 April 2019 @ 1:50 am

Forget the EU, what’s your vote on antibiotics, keep or chuck?

Girl with voting options
The real choice is live or die – not worth risking a mistake

Careful how you vote, your life depends on it.

Antibiotics might seem like lifesavers now, but when all superbugs can resist them, they’ll be as useless as sugar pills.

Which is exactly how things are going, right now. Our two major antibiotics of last resort, colistin and carbapenem have already been compromised – it’s only a matter of time before antimicrobial resistance is total.

No more protection against infection. No more surgical procedures like heart transplants, hip replacements or caesarean sections. Get unlucky and you’ll die from a paper cut. Medics are uneasy about their vote.

So if antibiotics are already so far on the skids, why aren’t we already abandoning them for something better? Bacteriophages already look like a possibility.

Food to be fearful of

It’s even worse in agriculture. Where most of the 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics the world produces every year gets pumped.

The discovery that antibiotics boost livestock growth up to four times bigger and faster has revolutionised farming in the last fifty years. Massive factory farms now produce super chickens and super cows. From egg to full-grown roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From calf to Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak in 16 months instead of four years.

During that time, the world hasn’t got any bigger. Still the same amount of land to produce food on – the same rainfall, the same basic climate.

Population though has exploded three times over. From 2½ billion in the 1950s – to 7½ billion today.

All fed off the same land size – but from three times the number of cattle, three times the chickens, three times the sheep, three times the pigs, three times the salmon, three times the feed crops, fruit and vegetables – all thanks to antibiotics. Ask any farmer, he’ll vote for more.

And for the bulk-up, look no further than your own waistline. Not so svelte and trim, hey? We seem to have bulged a bit over the last fifty years. Ballooning up even faster over the last ten.

So big and so fast that medics are calling it an obesity epidemic – and scratching their heads why. Fatty foods? Non-fatty foods? Carbohydrates? Sugar? Junk food?

Mainlining on growth promoters

Meanwhile we’re oblivious to the glaringly obvious – that every meal we eat is food accelerated by the growth trigger of antibiotics. Every mouthful includes a further dose of the same booster that cows and chickens eat. We’re getting fat off the same stuff they do.

Which puts us about as far away from lifesavers as it’s possible to get. Among the killers at the opposite ends of the scale. Your vote might be in for a big switcheroo.

Because obesity has a price-tag. Continual strain on the body causes diabetes, heart disease, cancer and a slew of other debilitating diseases. Sentencing every one of us fatties to a slow and lingering deterioration and inevitable death – 38 million every year, half the population of Britain.

Yeah, so follow the chain. Antibiotics makes us fat, fat makes us unhealthy, a lot of us are going to die.

So where does your vote stand? Antibiotics: keep, or chuck?

Not much of a choice is it?

Not if you want to live.

Picture Copyright: iko / 123RF Stock Photo

No, no, George – we need to REPLACE antibiotics, not discover new ones

Research lab
Time for alternatives – 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics a year aren’t helping

George Osborne is absolutely right about one thing. We need coordinated global action on antibiotics ASAP or millions of people will die.

Not because superbugs are resistant to them so our miracle life-savers don’t work any more. But because our miracle life-savers are super killers in their own right – far deadlier than killing just the 10 million people a year George anticipates by 2050.

Killer life-savers

And make no mistake, they ARE killers. That’s how they work. Killing is what they’re designed to do. It’s why they’ve been so successful at saving lives in the past – they kill harmful bacteria that try to kill us.

Trouble is, that’s not all they kill. They’re not targeted that tightly. So in destroying the one harmful bacterium that’s so dangerous to us, they take out other  bacteria too. Modifying and maiming others. Collateral damage among the 100 trillion bacteria that naturally inhabit our human gut – not unlike setting off a hydrogen bomb.

Kind of devastating to our bodies, because those bacteria are supposed to be there. Without them we wouldn’t be able to digest food or control most of our bodily functions. Nor would our immune systems work.

Sure, a course of antibiotics can cure us of an illness. But our systems never come back 100% to where they were before. While many bacteria can quickly reproduce themselves to make up numbers, whole colonies of others are simply wiped out. The essential diversity that defends us is lost. We are more at risk, less resilient, weaker than we were.

As for the damage antibiotics cause, we’re seeing the results every day – in the spreading waistlines of our rapidly fattening population. Today, two-thirds of adults are either overweight or obese. So are one third of children. And as any doctor can advise, obesity puts us well on the road to diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Not just 10 million a year, George. More like 100 times that.

The glutton factory

Caused by the side effect that antibiotics glitch the mechanism that controls our hunger. It switches on, but never switches off – unconsciously we’re always craving food, even though we’ve just eaten. We become gluttons, OD-ing on quick-charge power foods like burgers, pizza, hot dogs and chips.

Of course farmers lucked onto this decades ago. That feeding antibiotics to livestock would make them bulk up quicker. Four times as big, in quarter of the time, all for the same amount of food. The ultimate growth booster. Today, 70% of all antibiotics goes into agriculture.

Jackpot!

Which is why world consumption of antibiotics is now between 65,000 and 240,000 TONNES a year. Not our thumb-suck either, that’s straight out of the Prime Minister’s specially requested review of antibiotics: Antimicrobials in Agriculture and the Environment.

Which also means George, that it’s not exactly necessary to incentivise pharmaceutical companies to produce antibiotics. At 240,000 tonnes a year, they’re making a mint already.

Now we get to the nasty bit.

Super growth promoters

OK, so those 240,000 tonnes get fed to cows (and sheep and pigs and poultry and fish) along with their daily feedstuff. They chew it around and digest it, extracting the nutrients they need, then promptly poo 80-90% of it straight out again as waste.

Well no, not waste. Manure – rich, fertile nutrition for plants, laced through with antibiotics. Grazing grass, feed crops like sugar beet, soya and rapeseed, fed BACK into animals. Fertiliser for fruit, veg and grain staples like rice and wheat and maize.

Yup, you’ve got it. Pretty well everything that we humans eat these days has residual antibiotics in it. Our share of the 240,000 tonnes a year.

Not big doses, mind. Strictly sub-therapeutic. Small enough for our own gut bacteria to develop their own built-in antibiotic resistance. And of course small enough to knock our hunger switches out of kilter so we all become food gluttons – bulking up on power foods just like the cows do. Four times as big, in quarter of the time. Gimme another five burgers.

Yeah, so antibiotics, George. Not one of your best ideas.

But a replacement for them, now you’re talking.

Bacteriophages

The topdog medics will probably throw up their hands, but one option might be bacteriophages – using VIRUSES to kill harmful bacteria, the way the Soviets did back in the Cold War. Easier to target more precisely – more rifle than shotgun – easy to mutate in parallel as bacteria themselves mutate to find resistance.

Easy to fund too – just take it out of the profits being used to produce 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics a year that the world no longer needs because they’re killing us. Or at least the diabetes, heart disease and cancer they trigger through obesity that are killing us.

One snag. It takes 12 or more years to develop a new drug and release it to patients. In the meantime, we have no defence – as antibiotics literally become worse than useless.

Hygiene to the rescue

Ah, but we’re not dead yet.

Because the one sure way to compensate for antibiotics is AVOID needing them in the first place.

We can’t get sick if there are no germs. So we need to ensure that there aren’t any.

Right now, our daily hygiene is so iffy, it’s a wonder we’re not dying in droves already.

Easy peasy, right George?

Soap and water when we can, antibacterial wipes or gel when we can’t. A lot more affordable than 240,000 tonnes of killer antibiotics.

But it’s not just germs on our hands. We need to look at our living space as well. The enclosed rooms we share at school, work, eating out or being entertained – they’re full of germs too. Unless we mist them up overnight when we’re not there – sterilise germs in the air and on all surfaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide.

No germs on our hands, no germs where we live. Barring accidents we could get by without antibiotics – at least in the short term.

Over to you, George.

Picture Copyright: kovalvs / 123RF Stock Photo