Antibiotics are developed in an ever smaller amount due to the difficulties of discovering new ones. Bacteria, on the other hand, keep "finding" more ways to render antibiotics ineffective, and they are doing it faster than new antibiotics come to market. It seems that by a simple qualitative assessment at some point in the future all antibiotics will be ineffective.

However, there are 2 things I could think of that can suggest otherwise:

  1. Antibiotics which were rendered ineffective long ago can be reintroduced since it's possible that the bacteria mutated away from their defense mechanism. This would allow for cyclic reintroduction provided we have enough types of antibiotics to sustain the cycle.
  2. Antibiotics which bacteria can't defend against.

Are any of the above 2 possible futures? Can it be (at least theoretically) proven that antibiotics in point 2 can exist? Are there any other methods to "win the antibiotics war against bacteria" (assuming we are losing it as I assessed)?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ mobile.the-scientist.com/article/37629/… $\endgroup$ – canadianer Aug 25 '17 at 20:38
  • $\begingroup$ @canadianer Thanks. The sentence "as soon as the drug that is stopped cycles back on, the resistance comes right back" confuses me as it implies some long term memory of the system. If we cycle A-B-A then it's understandable, but I assume we would cycle A-B-C-D-E-A, and by the time we reach E do the bacteria still "remember" how they adapted to A in first place and can use that to adapt faster than they did in the first place? $\endgroup$ – user1803551 Aug 25 '17 at 21:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.