Antibiotics

An antibacterial is a substance that kills bacteria or slows their growth.

It is sometimes used as a synonym for “antibiotic”, but this term is more properly applied to the broader category of antimicrobial compounds.

In common usage, an antibiotic (from the Ancient Greek: ἀντί – anti, “against”, and βίος – bios, “life”) is a substance or compound that kills bacteria or inhibits their growth.

The term “antibiotic” was coined by Selman Waksman in 1942 to describe any substance produced by a microorganism that is antagonistic to the growth of other microorganisms in high dilution. This original definition excluded naturally occurring substances that kill bacteria but are not produced by microorganisms (such as gastric juice and hydrogen peroxide) and also excluded synthetic antibacterial compounds such as the sulfonamides. Many antibiotics are relatively small molecules with a molecular weight less than 2000 atomic mass units.

With advances in medicinal chemistry, most antibiotics are now semisynthetic—modified chemically from original compounds found in nature, as is the case with beta-lactams (which include the penicillins, produced by fungi in the genus Penicillium, the cephalosporins, and the carbapenems). Some antibiotics are still produced and isolated from living organisms, such as the aminoglycosides, and others have been created through purely synthetic means: the sulfonamides, the quinolones, and the oxazolidinones. In addition to this origin-based classification into natural, semisynthetic, and synthetic, antibiotics may be divided into two broad groups according to their effect on microorganisms: Those that kill bacteria are bactericidal agents, whereas those that only impair bacterial growth are known as bacteriostatic agents.

The assessment of the activity of an antibiotic is crucial to the successful outcome of antimicrobial therapy. Non-microbiological factors such as host defense mechanisms, the location of an infection, the underlying disease as well as the intrinsic pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of the antibiotic. Fundamentally, antibiotics are classified as either having lethal (bactericidal) action against bacteria or are bacteriostatic, preventing bacterial growth. The bactericidal activity of antibiotics may be growth phase-dependent, and, in most but not all cases, the action of many bactericidal antibiotics requires ongoing cell activity and cell division for the drugs’ killing activity. These classifications are based on laboratory behavior; in practice, both of these are capable of ending a bacterial infection. In vitro characterisation of the action of antibiotics to evaluate activity measure the minimum inhibitory concentration and minimum bactericidal concentration of an antimicrobial and are excellent indicators of antimicrobial potency. However, in clinical practice, these measurements alone are insufficient to predict clinical outcome. By combining the pharmacokinetic profile of an antibiotic with the antimicrobial activity, several pharmacological parameters appear to be significant markers of drug efficacy. The activity of antibiotics may be concentration-dependent and their characteristic antimicrobial activity increases with progressively higher antibiotic concentrations. They may also be time-dependent, where their antimicrobial activity does not increase with increasing antibiotic concentrations; however, it is critical that a minimum inhibitory serum concentration is maintained for a certain length of time. A laboratory evaluation of the killing kinetics of the antibiotic using kill curves is useful to determine the time- or concentration-dependence of .

Antibiotics are commonly classified based on their mechanism of action, chemical structure, or spectrum of activity. Most antibiotics target bacterial functions or growth processes. Antibiotics that target the bacterial cell wall (penicillins, cephalosporins), or cell membrane (polymixins), or interfere with essential bacterial enzymes (quinolones, sulfonamides) are usually bactericidal in nature. Those that target protein synthesis, such as the aminoglycosides, macrolides, and tetracyclines, are usually bacteriostatic. Further categorization is based on their target specificity: “Narrow-spectrum” antibiotics target particular types of bacteria, such as Gram-negative or Gram-positive bacteria, whereas broad-spectrum antibiotics affect a wide range of bacteria. In the last few years, three new classes of antibiotics have been brought into clinical use. This follows a 40-year hiatus in discovering new classes of antibiotic compounds. These new antibiotics are of the following three classes: cyclic lipopeptides (daptomycin), glycylcyclines (tigecycline), and oxazolidinones (linezolid). Tigecycline is a broad-spectrum antibiotic, whereas the two others are used for Gram-positive infections. These developments show promise as a means to counteract the bacterial resistance to existing antibiotics.

Although antibiotics are generally considered safe and well-tolerated, they have been associated with a wide range of adverse effects. There are various side-effects that can be very serious depending on the antibiotics used and the microbial organisms targeted. The safety profiles of newer medications may not be as well established as those that have been in use for many years. Adverse effects can range from fever and nausea to major allergic reactions including photodermatitis and anaphylaxis. One of the more common side-effects is diarrhea, resulting from the antibiotic’s disrupting the normal balance of the intestinal flora. This diarrhea is sometimes caused by the anaerobic bacterium Clostridium difficile. Such overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria may be alleviated by ingesting probiotics during a course of antibiotics. The population of bacteria present in the normal vaginal flora may also be disrupted, and may lead to overgrowth of yeast species of the genus Candida in the vulvo-vaginal area. Other side-effects can result from interaction with other drugs, such as elevated risk of tendon damage from administration of a quinolone antibiotic with a systemic corticosteroid. Certain antibiotics administered by IV (e.g.aminoglycosides, vancomycin) can cause significant permanent hearing loss.

The emergence of antibiotic resistance is an evolutionary process that is based on selection for organisms that have enhanced ability to survive doses of antibiotics that would have previously been lethal. Antibiotics like Penicillin and Erythromycin, which used to be one-time miracle cures are now less effective because bacteria have become more resistant. Antibiotics themselves act as a selective pressure that allows the growth of resistant bacteria within a population and inhibits susceptible bacteria. Antibiotic selection of pre-existing antibiotic resistant mutants within bacterial populations was demonstrated in 1943 by the Luria–Delbrück experiment. Survival of bacteria often results from an inheritable resistance. Any antibiotic resistance may impose a biological cost. Spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria may be hampered by reduced fitness associated with the resistance, which is disadvantageous for survival of the bacteria when antibiotic is not present. Additional mutations, however, may compensate for this fitness cost and aids the survival of these bacteria.

The underlying molecular mechanisms leading to antibiotic resistance can vary. Intrinsic resistance may naturally occur as a result of the bacteria’s genetic makeup. The bacterial chromosome may fail to encode a protein that the antibiotic targets. Acquired resistance results from a mutation in the bacterial chromosome or the acquisition of extra-chromosomal DNA. Antibiotic-producing bacteria have evolved resistance mechanisms that have been shown to be similar to, and may have been transferred to, antibiotic-resistant strains. The spread of antibiotic resistance mechanisms occurs through vertical transmission of inherited mutations from previous generations and genetic recombination of DNA by horizontal genetic exchange. Antibiotic resistance is exchanged between different bacteria by plasmids that carry genes that encode antibiotic resistance that may result in co-resistance to multiple antibiotics. These plasmids can carry different genes with diverse resistance mechanisms to unrelated antibiotics but because they are located on the same plasmid multiple antibiotic resistance to more than one antibiotic is transferred. On the other hand, cross-resistance to other antibiotics within the bacteria results when the same resistance mechanism is responsible for resistance to more than one antibiotic is selected for.

Antibiotic-resistant microorganisms, sometimes referred to as “superbugs”, may contribute to the re-emergence of diseases which are currently well-controlled. For example, cases of tuberculosis (TB) that are resistant to traditionally effective treatments remain a cause of great concern to health professionals. Every year, nearly half a million new cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) are estimated to occur worldwide. NDM-1 is a newly-identified enzyme that makes bacteria resistant to a broad range of beta-lactam antibiotics. United Kingdom Health Protection Agency has stated that “most isolates with NDM-1 enzyme are resistant to all standard intravenous antibiotics for treatment of severe infections.”

Inappropriate antibiotic treatment and overuse of antibiotics have been a contributing factor to the emergence of resistant bacteria. The problem is further exacerbated by self-prescribing of antibiotics by individuals without the guidelines of a qualified clinician and the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics as growth promoters in agriculture. Antibiotics are frequently prescribed for indications in which their use is not warranted, an incorrect or sub-optimal antibiotic is prescribed or in some cases for infections likely to resolve without treatment. The overuse of antibiotics like penicillin and erythromycin, which used to be one-time miracle cures, were associated with emerging resistance since the 1950s. Therapeutic usage of antibiotics in hospitals has been seen to be associated with increases in multi-antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Common forms of antibiotic misuse include excessive use of prophylactic antibiotics in travelers, failure to take into account the patient’s weight and history of prior antibiotic use when prescribing, since both can strongly affect the efficacy of an antibiotic prescription, failure to take the entire prescribed course of the antibiotic, failure to prescribe or take the course of treatment at fairly precise correct daily intervals (e.g., “every 8 hours” rather than merely “3x per day”), or failure to rest for sufficient recovery to allow clearance of the infecting organism. These practices may facilitate the development of bacterial populations with antibiotic resistance. Inappropriate antibiotic treatment is another common form of antibiotic misuse. A common example is the prescription and use of antibiotics to treat viral infections such as the common cold that have no effect. One study on respiratory tract infections found “physicians were more likely to prescribe antibiotics to patients who they believed expected them, although they correctly identified only about 1 in 4 of those patients”. Multifactorial interventions aimed at both physicians and patients can reduce inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics. Delaying antibiotics for 48 hours while observing for spontaneous resolution of respiratory tract infections may reduce antibiotic usage; however, this strategy may reduce patient satisfaction.

Several organizations concerned with antimicrobial resistance are lobbying to improve the regulatory climate. Approaches to tackling the issues of misuse and overuse of antibiotics by the establishment of the U.S. Interagency Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance, which aims to actively address the problem antimicrobial resistance, are being organized and coordinated by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as other federal agencies. An NGO campaign group is Keep Antibiotics Working. In France, an “Antibiotics are not automatic” government campaign starting in 2002 led to a marked reduction of unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions, especially in children. In the United Kingdom, there are NHS posters in many doctors’ surgeries indicating that ‘no amount of antibiotics will get rid of your cold’, with many patients specifically requesting antibiotics from their doctor inappropriately, believing they treat viral infections.

In agriculture, associated antibiotic resistance with the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animals resulted in their restricted use in the UK in the 1970 (Swann report 1969). At the current time, there is a EU-wide ban on the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics as growth promoters. It is estimated that greater than 70% of the antibiotics used in U.S. are given to feed animals (e.g., chickens, pigs, and cattle) in the absence of disease. Antibiotic use in food animal production has been associated with the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria including Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., Escherichia coli, and Enterococcus spp. Evidence from some US and European studies suggest that these resistant bacteria cause infections in humans that do not respond to commonly prescribed antibiotics. In response to these practices and attendant problems, several organizations (e.g., The American Society for Microbiology (ASM), American Public Health Association (APHA) and the American Medical Association (AMA)) have called for restrictions on antibiotic use in food animal production and an end to all non-therapeutic uses. However, delays in regulatory and legislative actions to limit the use of antibiotics are common, and may include resistance to these changes by industries using or selling antibiotics, as well as time spent on research to establish causal links between antibiotic use and emergence of untreatable bacterial diseases. Two federal bills (S.742 and H.R. 2562) aimed at phasing out non-therapeutic antibiotics in US food animal production were proposed but not passed. These bills were endorsed by public health and medical organizations including the American Holistic Nurses’ Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association (APHA). The EU has banned the use of antibiotics as growth promotional agents since 2003.

When it comes to antibiotics, you can take them but the health benefits may be short lived so why not simply and naturally ingest GRN to detoxify your digestive system and cleanse your body from the inside and ingest UMI to boost your immune system to fight off diseases and infections and the bacteria associated with all illnesses. The wise choice would be to prevent the bad bacteria from entering your body while nourishing the good bacteria and since most of the immune system in the human body starts in the gastrointestinal tract it would be wise to boost it with UMI as your immune system booster.

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