Why is it important to detect antibiotics where they shouldn’t be?

Hello everyone and welcome to my second blog!  As a reminder, my project consists on develop a device to detect antibiotics in milk, using DNA and antibodies as recognition elements with SPR (Surface Plasmon Resonance) detection and Smartphone readout system for data acquisition.

This time I would like to discuss with you a problem that has taken importance in recent years. Someone might wonder why it’s necessary to detect antibiotics in milk? As part of the answer we could mention for example, to improve the animal healthcare, to ensure food quality and safety, avoid economic losses and last but not least to control “Antibiotic Resistance”.  In this blog I will try to share with you some ideas related to the last mentioned problem.

The World Health Organization considers that Antibiotic Resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development today.

It’s important to remark that we live surrounded by bacteria, some of them crucial for life but others potentially dangerous.  To deal with the problematic ones we have developed antibiotics that are natural, semi-synthetic or synthetic compounds that can suppress or kill bacterial growth. After several years of massive misuse of these agents in human and veterinary health, we started to notice that the typical antibiotics weren’t capable to keep working with the same efficiency as they used to work.  Behind this, a lot of scientific evidence started to suggest that these microorganisms find the way to become resistant to the drugs that some years ago were able to kill them.   Antibiotic resistance happens when a bacteria develops or acquires a way to prevent the effect of antibiotics from killing or controlling growth. The problem is that when bacteria do not respond to the drugs designed to kill them, infections that used to be treatable can become fatal.

To understand this concept in an interactive way, here is a video explaining in detail part of this phenomenon. Hope you like it.  

theantibioticapocalypseexplained

How we can help? There are different ways to contribute against this problem, for example when the doctor prescribe us antibiotic for a certain period of days is essential to respect it. Otherwise we are contributing to keep the most resistant bacteria alive, those that survived the first few days of treatment letting them continue to grow, becoming more and more resistant. The following image gives us an idea of how antibiotic resistance can spread:

As it was previously explained the extended use of antibiotics in the veterinary field, could lead to the presence of these compounds on animal derivate products as milk, eggs or meat. For this purpose is necessary to establish good regulation policies and controls to monitor in a rapid way if the administration of the drugs is being done properly. The idea behind my work is related to this problem, because this kind of device could be used by farmers, veterinaries or even milk consumers as a potential tool to detect antibiotics in milk samples directly with the Smartphone.  At this point we are trying to offer a solution to a huge problem making us part of the process.

Going into details, until now I worked on the characterization of the imunoreagents used on my ELISA. Currently I’m developing a fluorescent microarray to detect three different classes of antibiotics in milk, using oligonucleotide probes linked to haptens and also antibodies to detect the molecules of interest.

I hope you find it interesting and you can keep some information about it. For the next blogs I will try to continue explaining concepts related to my project.

Have a nice weekend.

 Regards,

Julian

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