Quick Notes from Revenge of the Microbes

1. Magic Bullets, Miracle Drugs
• misuse antibiotics w/ viral infections (ex. cold and flu)
o greater # resistant bacteria predominate
• antibiotics - kill/prevent growth of bacteria (bacteria specific)
• prevent infection by reducing # bacteria w/ access to vulnerable areas
o antiseptics – external use on body
o disinfectants – clean inanimate objects
• vaccines prepare immune cells to respond to certain invaders
• effective to use various tools above in combination
• most disease causing bacteria are now penicillin resistant
o T. palladium – one of the few exceptions
• tuberculosis’ main risk factor = breathing
o therapy of antibiotics for at least 6 mo. today
o ~1/3 world’s popl. infected with M. tuberculosis
• bacterial pneumonia – lung disease
o deadliest form in infants = meningitis
o penicillin resistance increasing
• before penicillin, amputation used as treatment for wound infections
• thanks to disinfectants & antibiotics, surgery relatively low-risk
o downside – postsurgical infection causing bacteria increasing antibiotic resistance
• antibiotics help patients to recover chemotherapy
o tide patient over while white cell count goes back to normal
• *w/o antibiotics, many medical techniques would be much riskier*

2. A Brief Look at the History of Antibiotics
• Rene Dubos – close to finding new way of fighting bacterial infections using soil bacteria
• “sulfa drugs” – inactivate enzyme bacteria need to make folic acid
o idea of selective toxicity arose since this wasn’t toxic to humans like was w/ bacteria
as chemists became more sophisticated, one of their first successes were synthetic compounds called sulfonamides
• Debate over who discovered penicillin (penicillin = driving force to antibiotic revolution)
• Good lab procedures = more reliable & believable results
• Florey & Chain mass produced penicillin
• During early stages of penicillin discovery – saw implications that bacteria could become resistant to it
• Tuskegee Study – Af. Americans used as test subjects for spyhillis & not given proper antimicrobial therapy – few survived
• AZT – anti HIV compound – slows infection progress
o short term administration to pregnant women about to give birth prevents HIV transmission to the infant
o testing in Africa & Thailand – caused uproar like Tuskegee, although exceptionally diff. cases
• *ethics of drug testing still an issue esp. when dealing with poor countires*
o now very expensive to test new antibiotics – keep equitable & ethical
-Jessica Boschen

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