Often, people seem to want to leave a physician with a prescription in hand. When suffering from a viral infection, is there an available pill doctors could prescribe such as “Placebomycin”? I’m sure it would do the world of good.

Incidentally, do bacteria ever lose their gained resistance to antibiotics?

A placebomycin, I think, would violate some treatment disclosure laws, also, as tempting as the idea is, I can think of a few Docs I wouldn’t want to have that ability.

The answer to your second question will likely vary from species to species, but I believe there are some recorded cases of decreased or lost resistance,

IIRC, it was found recently that bacteria do not lose antibiotic resistance. The hope was based on the idea bacteria can only hold so much genetic information. If bacteria were not exposed to, say, penicillin for many generations, it was hypothesiszed that it would lose the penicillin-resistance gene eventually, as it was essentially excess baggage.

But this was found not to be the case. The article was in Science, I believe. I’ll see if I can burp it up.


Alphagene, that site sucks - they want to charge me $5.00 to read the article? I wouldn’t have minded paying $12.00 for an online subscription, but it said I had to belong to the association and have a print subscription before I could do that - forget it! Why in the heck would I want an online scrip if I had a print scrip, or vice versa?

I have as much authority as the Pope; I just don’t have as many people who believe it! - George Carlin

Only when they’re sick.

Ray (giving new meaning to ‘a sick joke’)

Ben, you couldn’t read it? I don’t have an online subscription and I got to it no problem.

Alphagene-permanent resistance to antibiotics in bacteria-that’s shitty news. I just read your post and read the link. I had been under the impression that bacteria would lose “un-needed resistance” over generations because it “costs” the cell to maintain the resistance. If that’s not true, think of all the future problems caused by antibiotics added to such products like laundry detergent and whatnot. Products that don’t even need antibiotics but probably sell better to an uninformed public. I would wager that a lot of people don’t even know the difference between bacterial and viral infections. I once heard a vacuum cleaner salesman tell me his product’s filter would remove bacteria AND VIRUS particles from my carpet; what BS-I don’t think this guy knew the difference and if I didn’t either-Wow! What a great product; cleans my carpets and protects me from disease at the same time! I think I want to read the Science article and its references. Scary if it holds up.

I was always under the impression that if you remove a selective mechanism from an organism’s environment, that organism will no longer evolve in response to that mechanism.

If bacteria don’t have to defend against attack by streptomycin, for instance, it’s certain a fair amount of that strain will mutate into a non-resistant strain and survive along with the rest of their brethren. What’s unknown at this point is, does the lack of resistance give those that have it an edge over those that don’t?

I think the cite Alphagene brought up might not take into account all the streptomycin derivitives that have been developed over the last 30 years - those bacteria have resistance to all but the latest forms of that molecule. Kind of a molecular “backwards compatible” aspect. The streptomycin base is still acting as a selective mechanism in our world.

I don’t think bacteria will gain resistance to streptomycin if it is exposed only to its deriviatives. There would be no point in making derivative antibiotics if a bacteria became resistant to the “base” of the drug.

Also remember that the mechanisms of resistance bacteria use against various drugs differ. Penicillin resistant bugs make an enzyme that cut up the penicillin molecule. Streptomycin resistance is the result of the mutation of a bacterial protein that the drug binds to. Tetracycline resistance, IIRC, is due to an increase in molecular shittles that merely truck the drug out of the bacteria’s interior at an increased rate. So the benefit a bacteria would have (if any) without resistance depends on the mechanism.

BTW, 647, the viruses stuck in your carpet aren’t going to do you much harm. The ones on your doorknobs are another story.

647- All those “anti-bacterial” products do not contain antibiotics. Antibiotics are a very specific group of chemicals that kill a broad spectrum of bacteria and leave your cells alone. Bleach is about as anti-bacterial as you can get–but it’s not a good idea to put it in an IV.

I do agree with you, however, that it is really silly how they market everything as “anti-bacterial” these days and charge out the wazoo for it. It’s geting to the point where you never see a cleaning product boasting aobut it’s cleaning potential–just how well it kills germs. This is annoying–I want somthing that will get the gunk up off my counters, not just sanitize it. If you just want to kill germs, you can’t beat bleach at 97 cents a gallon.