Nature gives men bacteria fighting beards so improves their antibiotic resistance!
Facial hair could be a key to developing new antibiotics, claims a team led by Dr. Adam Roberts, microbiologist at University College London (UCL) in the UK,
They have spent recent years attempting to uncover new medicines that overcome drug resistance, a major public health concern. Each year, millions of people develop antibiotic-resistant infections, with thousands dying as a result. Antibiotic resistance is now a global problem that meant in 2014, the WHO declared that:
We are headed for a “post-antibiotic era,” where infections that were once treatable could become life threatening.
While improving antibiotic prescribing and use of antibiotics are important to tackling drug resistance, the major barrier to be overcome is the development of new antibiotics.
The research and production of new antibiotics ihas declined in last 20 years so much so that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval rate for new antibiotics fell by 56% between 1998-2002 and the 89 new drugs approved in 2002, there were no new antibiotics. So bacteria have had time to evolve and develop resistance to current drugsmainly due to:
“Our overuse and inappropriate use. So, we’ve selected for these resistance mechanisms in the bacteria, so it’s why we’re seeing the problem that we’re seeing now,” Dr. Roberts told Reuters.
Producing new antibiotics is a key focus for researchers, and Dr. Roberts and his team believe something as simple as facial hair could help reach this goal.
Beard bacteria can kill some drug resistant E. coli
Part of the study, conducted as part of the UK BBC show “Trust Me, I’m a Doctor” – Dr. Roberts and colleagues swabbed the beards of 20 men on the streets of London.
From these samples, the researchers grew over 100 strains of bacteria in a 4-week period; the bacteria consisted mostly of species that are found on the skin.
They tested the bacteria against indicator strains of drug-resistant bacteria andthe researchers were surprised that around a quarter of the bacteria grown from the beard samples were able to kill the indicator strains,
“showing that they actually produce antibiotics themselves,”
“We’ve now got a selection of around 50 different bacteria which can kill multiple indicator strains.”
according to Dr. Roberts.