New research suggests that E. coli may have a new weapon to combat antibiotics. Although debate has surfaced over the use of antibiotics and the ability for bacteria to become resistant to the drugs, researchers from Harvard have discovered that some bacteria are not only resistant to antibiotics, but actually consume the drugs.
According to Discover, the researchers took 11 soil samples from various environments with different levels of antibiotics. Bacteria were discovered in all the samples that were able to survive by consuming antibiotics. These bacteria included types of E. coli as well as Shigella. The bacteria even existed in conditions that contained more that 100 times the amount of drugs given as a normal dose to patients and more than 50 times the amount needed to qualify bacteria as resistant.
The research provides a new angle on the use of antibiotics to combat bacteria like E. coli, both in patients and in livestock. There is also a possibility that the genes that allow the consumption of antibiotics could be spread to pathogenic bacteria and make infections from bacteria such as E. coli 0157:H7 even more dangerous.
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