You Could Help Find the Next Generation of Antibiotics - Dream Health

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Thursday 5 November 2015

You Could Help Find the Next Generation of Antibiotics


The Next Generation of Antibiotics

Antibiotics have helped in curing several diseases. However, the present excessive use in particular, the constant prescription of antibiotics in treating viral diseases in promoting quick growth of animals in food production, tends to increase the resistance of pathogenic microbes causing loss of effectiveness of antibiotics.

This could lead to urgent threat to global public health as well as increase the cost of healthcare. A latest biology kit enables the discovery of the next generation of antibiotics. Created by entrepreneur Vidhi Mehta, the Post/Biotics would utilise a combination of citizen science together with crowdsourcing in identifying new materials with antibiotic assets to crack the growing problem of drug resistance.

Mehta, with a degree in industrial design explains the system as a `pop up lab and testing kit, which could be utilised in testing plants, fruits, fungi, vegetables, mushrooms and soil for antibiotic capabilities, which are locally available. Several of the antibiotics presently have been created from natural extracts like plants, soil, insect deep-sea beds and volcanoes, which host useful microbes with antibiotic capabilities. However, Mehta is interested in encouraging others to look more closely with regards to the new breed of antibiotic.

Home Remedies – Ayurveda a Common Practice

It was reported that in December last year, the near future global toll of antibiotic resistance could lead to millions of death each year more than that of cancer and diabetes together. The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, at that time, specified that the antibiotic resistance accounted for about 50,000 deaths in the US and Europe. The scheme projected the present death toll to 700,000 all over the world. The £10m Longitude Prize, in June this year searched for explanation to the escalating danger of antibiotic resistance. Mehta planned to take up the matters and commented that `in design, she had been taught that problems like drug resistance seem to be wicked problems, problems of systemic magnitude with various stakeholders and no silver bullets.

 These types of problems would need various kinds of intervention, with each driving the cause in positive directions’.She added that `growing up in India, home remedies like Ayurveda had been a common practice. Garlic, honey and turmeric were often utilised as antimicrobials and wondered how many more local medicines and practices, people around the world would use and what would this knowledge mean to scientific researchers, looking for a lead in discovering new antibiotics’.

Post/Biotics Web Database/Imperial College & University of Chicago

She narrates that this was when she coordinated with Josiah Zayner, a bio-physicist at the International Laboratory for Identification of Antibiotic Drugs and spoke about crowdsourcing antimicrobials by providing people with the tools and platform for assistance. Mehta states that besides helping in finding crucial new drugs, Post/Biotics could also be utilised in boosting science skills in schools.

The Post/Biotics web database by associating with Imperial College and University of Chicago would be helping people to enter data and test and validate samples. Post/Biotics tends to distribute initial experimental research to schools through global STEM educational platform which is a vision of open-source drug discovery.

One can image what could happen when its designs supports the tools of scientific invention to reach to the common individuals, supporting their learning and adding to scientific knowledge through the power of crowd. Mehta explains that when people tend to participate in Post/Biotics, they discover an interesting sample which the platform recognises its uniqueness, sending it for verification to university leaders.

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