Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Promising Hospital Anti-infection Strategy Probably Won’t Work


Hospital patients increasingly face tenacious bacterial infections because microbes found in hospitals acquire resistance to commonly prescribed antibiotics. A recent strategy alternating the most commonly used antibiotics has sparked hope of stopping the spread of antibiotic resistance.

But a new model shows that the practice of cycling – alternating between two or more classes of antibiotics as often as every few months – probably will not work. It is an unexpected finding at a time when clinical tests of the practice with real patients are in progress.

"We were really surprised. We expected to find a number of cases where it would work, and it was the exact opposite," said Carl Bergstrom, a University of Washington assistant professor of biology.

Instead of cycling, Bergstrom said, hospitals could probably help patients more by prescribing a variety of antibiotics, a method known as mixing. That means instead of having a standard, rotating antibiotic that is used routinely within a single unit, such as intensive care, or even throughout the hospital, a more effective strategy would be to have two or more generally prescribed antibiotics being administered randomly. Two people sharing a room could routinely receive different antibiotics.

Bergstrom noted that antibiotic mixing already is relatively common, not as a conscious strategy but rather because individual doctors develop preferences for the types of medications they prescribe. That can instigate the same type of antibiotic variety as mixing would introduce.

The theory behind antibiotic cycling is that, just as a pathogen strain begins to adapt to a particular antibiotic, a new antibiotic is introduced and the pathogen must start from scratch in building resistance. However, the model implies that pathogens actually encounter new antibiotics more frequently when hospitals use antibiotic mixing than when they use cycling, so cycling is unlikely to reduce resistance levels.

"If the cycling trials that are underway don’t work, we’ll know why they don’t," Bergstrom said. "And if they do work, the people conducting the trials are going to have to do further investigation on why they are working, because the rationale that we’ve been using for cycling doesn’t hold true."

The study is based on numerical models that examined the mechanics of how microbial infections spread in hospitals and how the microbes build resistance to antibiotics. Bergstrom is the lead author of a paper detailing the work, which is being published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and will appear online the week of Aug. 9. Co-authors are Monique Lo and Marc Lipsitch of the Harvard University School of Public Health.

Another implication of the work, Bergstrom said, is that cycling actually could be detrimental to patients, "so the studies need to be very carefully monitored to make sure we are not causing additional harm in the hospital."

He likened a hospital to a disease-ridden island in the middle of a relatively healthy river. As people get well and leave the island, they can carry with them the antibiotic-resistant organisms developed on the island and the pathogen can spread. That can make things worse when the patients carrying the resistant pathogens return to the hospital-island, as they often do.

"When you release resistant bacteria into the community, I think it’s a lot like polluting an ocean," Bergstrom said. "At first you don’t notice, but then it starts to creep up on you and you have a real problem. And then it’s hard, maybe even impossible, to go back and fix it."

| newswise
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>