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Antibiotics are no longer doing their jobs

Last week I had to get my bottom wisdom teeth extracted. Last year, when I got the top two out there were no complications, I was in and out of the dentist’s office quicker than a regular check-up appointment. Unfortunately, this time around I was in so much pain I couldn’t sleep for 4 nights, and I didn’t even have my mom by my side to make it better. After three appointments in over four days, I was done, and out of pain, but I was prescribed antibiotics, which I had to take every four hours for ten days. My dentist warned me that I’m most likely going to have an upset stomach and to eat lots of greek yogurt, which I thought was very odd. Why is the medicine I’m taking to stop an infection in my mouth going to give me diarrhea? So I went home, and in my drowsy state did a little research.

Antibiotics are not the best drugs for us. Not a lot of people know this, but antibiotics eradicate all bacteria in our gut- regardless of whether it’s the bad bacteria that’s making us sick or the good bacteria that keep us happy and healthy.  Aside from making us sick

Aside from making us feel sick, antibiotics have been prescribed excessively by doctors, and mixed into animal feed by farmers for years, causing bacteria to get stronger and smarter, to the point that these drugs are no longer effective in many cases. Just this past January a woman died because of a horrible infection that not one of 26 different antibiotics could help clear up.

So what is the solution to this problem?- A new startup called Eligo Bioscience wants to create what they call “Eligobiotics”- which are “smart drugs” that enter the body with precision and destroy only the harmful. bacteria, therefore sparing all the microbes that keep us going.

These smart drugs work by taking advantage of a very precise new form of gene editing called CRISPR, which does not involve genetic modification. Instead, CRISPR just selectively kills only the harmful bacteria with the help of tiny nanobots programmed to scan a patient’s DNA, in order to seek and destroy specific harmful sequences in bacteria.

So far, eligobiotics have only been tested in mice, but clinical trials are slated to start in 2020, and if it all goes according to plan, the drugs would ideally be taken as a pill, and eventually replace the antibiotics that are becoming less and less effective every day anyway.

Original Story: “A Growing Threat Could Kill 10 Million People by 2050, But One Company Thinks it Can Stop it” by Erin Brodwin, Business Insider, Sept 27, 2017.

 

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