The was found to treat MRSA, doctors used it

The first
antibiotic, penicillin, was discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928. Once Penicillin
had started being distributed in 1945 it saved millions of lives by stopping
the growth of the bacteria1,
this was a fantastic time in medical history. Suddenly infections that had been a death sentence
become something you recovered from in days2,
it’s no wonder they were referred to as miracle drugs. Life before antibiotics
would shock anyone in this age, anything from a paper cut could kill. People
who got infections either recovered or they died, there was no solution any
doctor could provide. As McKenna points out that in the pre- antibiotic era most
people didn’t die of cancer, or heart diseases like today but died simply from

Ever since
1945, we have lived in a miracle age and now this is coming to an end and everyday
infections will shortly become untreatable.  Now in the post- antibiotic era, the number of
people dying from infections untreatable by antibiotics has overtaken lifestyle
diseases e.g. bowel and lung cancer. This is all because of antibiotic
resistance; this is where a bacterium has the ability to withstand the effects
of an antibiotic. It evolves naturally as bacteria have a high mutation rate
and divide rapidly. When a mutation occurs, an allele within the bacterium’s
plasmid changes, this causes the bacterium to produce an enzyme which can break
down the antibiotic.  As it gives the
bacterium a selective advantage, they are suited to the environment and are
more likely to survive and reproduce. The advantageous allele that allowed the
individuals to be successful are passed to the offspring in the next generation
creating more and more antibiotic resistant bacteria.

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is the most commonly known antibiotic-resistant bacteria or “superbug”, it is a
bacterium resistant to beta-lactam antibiotics. This category of antibiotics
includes methicillin, oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin.3
A new drug, vancomycin was found to treat MRSA, doctors used it sparingly to
reduce the risk of MRSA mutating again. However, in 2002, VRSA was found which
is resistant to vancomycin. This proves that it is only a matter of time until
bacteria mutate that we don’t have a treatment for.



WJEC Biology A2 Level Study and Revision guide.


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