The Antibiotic Crisis: An Interdisciplinary Review and Analysis
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After decades of antibiotic misuse, antibiotic resistance is becoming more and more rampant. Normally, antibiotics damage bacteria by attacking nucleic acids, proteins, metabolites, cell walls, or cell membranes. Antibiotic exposure stabilizes mutations that allow bacteria to evade drug action through one of five mechanisms: deactivating the antibiotics, preventing antibiotics from building up within the cell, altering targets for antibiotics, using pathways that avoid targeted metabolic processes, and protecting specific locations within the cell. An increase in the frequency of these mechanisms leads to the emergence of multidrug resistant bacteria. These infections are exceedingly difficult to treat and are often lethal. To prevent a future without effective antibiotics, scientific research has focused on developing treatments that utilize mechanisms of action similar to current antibiotics, oppose mechanisms of resistance, or function through totally new mechanisms. To do so, scientists search for antibiotic molecules in locations as close as the human biome and as far as “folk cures” from nations around the world. Progress in research must also be paired with public health campaigns that aim to decrease the misuse of antibiotics. Only after new antibiotics are developed and antibiotic use is improved can the antibiotic crisis end.
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