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Will we become defenseless against bacteria? Will bacteria always find a way to infect and even kill us? The emergence of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria poses an enormous problem around the world. Scientists believe that the overuse of antibiotics is increasing the appearance of these pathogens. In the US, increasing casualties resulting from drug resistant staphylococcus infections received wide media attention.
While antibiotics only work on bacterial infections, many patients and doctors regard antibiotics as a front-line form of treating any type of infection. Antibiotics are often prescribed because the specific pathogen that is causing an illness is often difficult to determine. In some cases they are used as a preventative measure. But is this the best defense? Are there ways to beat bacteria at their own game?
On September 18, 2008 at the Koshland Science Museum in Washington, D.C., Dr. Stuart Levy, professor of Molecular Biology and Microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine and Dr. Linda Tollefson, Assistant Commissioner for Science at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, discussed how to optimize antibiotic use and how to minimize the emergence of drug resistant pathogens.
In part 1 of this 3 part video series, Dr. Levy discusses the basics of microbial pathogens, bacteria, and antibiotic resistance. And, Dr. Tollefson outlines the various types and classes of antibiotic drugs, approved uses, and current levels of effectiveness.
Dr. Levy is Professor of Molecular Biology and Microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine where he is the Director of the Center for Adaptation Genetics and Drug Resistance. He directs research on mechanisms of bacterial antibiotic resistance. Stuart Levy is also Staff Physician at the Tufts Medical Center and he also serves as the president of The International Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics.
Dr. Tollefson is Assistant Commissioner for Science at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). She previously served as Deputy Director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), where she led CVM's efforts to implement a risk-based approach to address antimicrobial resistance, fulfilling a 2001 Congressional mandate, and was instrumental in the founding of the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System for Enteric Bacteria. Tollefson also served as Chief of Epidemiology in the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition where she successfully investigated numerous outbreaks of food borne disease and served as liaison to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.