Australian scientists have found something that is said to be a huge step forward in the fight against superbugs. Let’s see what they mean with that.
Lesson one in analysing scientific studies is to ignore all the science speak and find out what is really said. So let’s ignore the weird name of the protein. It sounds impressive, but it’s not. “causes multi-drug resistance by masking bacteria from both the human immune system” Huh? Since when can’t the immune system handle bacteria? Most of us have MRSA bacteria on our skin. If our immune system couldn’t handle that we would all die from infection with the first minor cut. “and important antibiotics”. There we get a piece of information. Superbugs are simply bugs that don’t respond very well to conventional antibiotics. That’s all. There is nothing with these bacteria that gives them super powers or so.
“multi-drug resistant bacteria are responsible for approximately 700,000 deaths a year.” Well, no. People get infections with these bacteria all the time, but most don’t die from them. Many people will never even know they have an infection, which makes you wonder what actually an infection is. There are all kinds of reasons why these 700,000 people couldn’t handle the bacteria. But nobody dies from lack of antibiotics. “The World Health Organisation has predicted this figure could rise to 10 million by 2050.” They could be correct, considering that there are not a lot of people left who have properly functioning immune systems. That has nothing to do with lack of antibiotics, but with lack of a variety of other things that are necessary to stay healthy.
“the breakthrough was particularly important” Here is finally the “breakthrough”, the word I was waiting for. It’s amazing how many breakthrough research is done in the medical field and how the actual results are completely lacking. I don’t see any reason to believe that this time it will be any different. “prevent superbugs hiding from medication.” Outsmarted by bacteria. It’s sad.
“Professor Vrielink said genes containing the colistan-resistant protein” I don’t know if the professor has really said this or that the journalist is blundering. A gene is a complex molecule. A protein is a completely different type of complex molecule. A gene cannot contain a protein. Genes make proteins. Somehow, for nobody has any idea how.
“I would consider antibacterial resistance to be one of our largest public health threats.” Professor Vrielink, either you are completely ignorant, or you are lying. The largest public health threat are doctors and they have been for a long time. Oops!
“technique called X-ray crystallography” It sounds so intelligent, so technical and so scientific. Unfortunately none of those fancy techniques and expensive equipment ever leads to cures or good treatments and nobody gets any healthier because of it. That’s why I say that it’s best to ignore the science speak.
“drives your further research to try and find a therapeutic treatment.” And there we get the truth. This “breakthrough” doesn’t mean anything. It’s just some fun for the researchers and now they are going to try to find a new drug that might kill fewer people than it helps. Usually you don’t hear again about such “breakthrough” research.
And why all this trouble? There is a variety of natural antibiotics available that are remarkably effective. And they are safe as well (though some should better not be used by pregnant women and little children). And two more advantages: they are cheap and you don’t need to see a doctor to get them. And these treatments don’t cause resistance. So why bother with fancy, expensive research? If I would ask prof. Vrielink this question she would no doubt say that “there is no proof that these natural antibiotics work”. Somehow I don’t think that matters to people who are very sick. As long as they recover that’s all they care about. And that doesn’t happen with fancy research or expensive equipment.