At Fluxion, we’re passionate about delivering cell-based and cell-free solutions that facilitate the transformation of research discoveries into new ways to diagnose and treat patients. By characterizing molecular and cellular mechanisms of disease, Fluxion’s platforms help bridge the translational medicine gap, enabling rapid advances in disease research, drug discovery, and the development of diagnostic tests.
Bacteria live in our bodies with other microbes, or microorganisms, like fungi. These microbes come together to make up each human's microbiome. But when these microbes stop doing their jobs, our microbiomes begin to malfunction. Pathogens can invade our system and infect us, or the bacteria that were originally helping us can begin to overpopulate, creating an imbalance and dominating the microbiome.
Even though antibiotics are meant to attack specific bacteria, sometimes they aren't targeted enough. Antibiotics can wipe out the good bacteria in our bodies. This leaves the resistant bacteria to continue to multiply without any protective mechanisms to hold them back.
The figure above shows S. mutans, a bacteria commonly found in oral biofilms. The bacteria was grown on a BioFlux microfluidic plate, treated with pleurocidin (antimicrobial agent), and stained (green = live cells, red = dead cells). Bacteria on the outside of the biofilm was killed by the antimicrobial agent, whereas the bacteria closer to the inside of the biofilm was protected (Tao et al., 2011).
Now that we know what antibiotic resistance is and how it occurs, how can we fight it?
1. Wash Your Hands
This tip is usually the easiest and most self-explanatory. Keeping your hands clean prevents transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and any other pathogens, making sure that you and everyone around you stays safe. The CDC recommends to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you don't have access to soap and water, using hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of at least 60% is the next best thing.
2. Use Antibiotics When Appropriate
As discussed earlier, antibiotics are needed for severe bacterial infections, and have saved many lives over the years. But the over-prescription and misuse of antibiotics has deeply contributed to the antibiotic resistance crisis. Only use antibiotics when they are necessary, and talk to your healthcare provider about what's right for you.
3. Get Vaccinated
Vaccines act as a preventive mechanism to stop the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. While many bacteria can be antibiotic-resistant, scientists have yet to find any that are vaccine-resistant. The WHO estimates that if every child across the globe received the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria vaccine, approximately 11 million days of antibiotic use would be prevented each year. Not to mention, people can mistakenly take antibiotics when they have a fever caused by a virus. So vaccines that target viruses, like the flu, are also important to consider.
Clean: Wash your hands, produce, and kitchen tools. Separate: Avoid cross-contamination of produce and any raw meat. Cook: Use a food thermometer to cook your meat to the correct temperature. Chill: Freeze and refrigerate your food properly. Refrigerate perishables within 2 hours, keep your refrigerator at 40°F or below, and thaw food from the freezer correctly (in the fridge, in cold water, or in the microwave - but not on the counter).
5. Stay Educated
Last but not least - scientific researchers are working hard to combat the antibiotic resistance crisis, so it's important to stay informed on the latest antimicrobial screening research. Scientists in the Microbial Biofilm Laboratory at the Santa Lucia Foundation study catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) caused by E. coli. The bacteria adhere to the indwelling urinary catheter, and form biofilms that can resist antibiotic therapy. These CAUTIs further contribute to the many medical device infections caused by antimicrobial-resistant biofilms in healthcare.
They have found that creating a physiologically-relevant environment outside the body is an effective way to begin evaluating novel antimicrobial treatments for these antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This is done through Fluxion's BioFlux system, where catheter conditions are simulated with silicone-based channels that allow for control of flow and experimental materials. With BioFlux, they've been successful in determining which antimicrobials show the most promise.
Learn More about This Antimicrobial Screening Research in a Webinar (Presented by a Leading Scientist at the Santa Lucia Foundation):