Superbugs, Flinders University, Fish Oil, Resistance, Bacterial İnfections, Antibiotics, The World Health Organization, Fatty Acids

Superbugs, Flinders University

Fish oil supplements could combat antibiotic resistance

The World Health Organization has called antibiotic resistance 'one of the biggest threats to human health'.

24/6/2021 3:40:00 AM

Research suggests that fish oil supplements may break down 'superbugs' that have become resistant to antibiotics.

The World Health Organization has called antibiotic resistance 'one of the biggest threats to human health'.

18 June 2021, 12:00 pm·3-min readFish oil supplements may have antibacterial properties. (Stock, supplied: Flinders University)Fish oil supplements may break down "superbugs" that have become resistant to antibiotics, research suggests.

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The World Health Organization has called antibiotic resistance "one of the biggest threats to human health". Infections that are currently considered to be almost harmless may one day be incurable, with once-effective drugs becoming useless.

Antibiotics become less effective the more they are used. Inappropriate prescriptions and patients failing to take the drugs properly mean many bacterial infections have evolved resistance, bypassing the medication that is trying to destroy them.Scientists from Flinders University in Adelaide have now found taking fish oil fatty acids alongside antibiotics may help to ward off resistance.

Read more:Antibiotic resistance fears rise amid pandemicWriting in the journal mBio, the team explains how fish oil supplements have antimicrobial properties, offering a safe and easily-accessible solution to drug resistance. The research is in its infancy, with it being unclear how many supplements a person may have to take to help combat the problem.

"Our studies indicate a major antibiotic resistance mechanism in cells can be negatively impacted by the uptake of omega-3 dietary lipids," said study author Dr Bart Eijkelkamp."In the experiments, and complementary supercomputer modelling, we found these fatty acids in fish oil renders the bacteria more susceptible to various common antibiotics."

Read more:The scientists focused on the bacteriaAcinetobacter baumannii.Often picked up in hospital,A. baumanniihave developed "unprecedented levels of antibiotic resistance around the world"."Our research showed fish oil fatty acids become part of the bacteria membrane, and thus make the invading bacteria membrane more permeable and susceptible to the antibiotics being used to attack it," said co-author Dr Felise Adams.

Story continuesSome antibiotics target bacteria's cell walls, killing the pathogens. Others work to suppress the bacteria's division, giving a patient's immune system a better chance of fighting off the infection naturally.Bacteria mutate rapidly, acquiring mutations almost constantly. Like "survival of the fittest", mutations that enable bacteria to outsmart the antibiotics then stick around.

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Read more:Antibiotic discovery stunted by bust drug companiesThese mutations are then passed between bacteria and down to future generations.Speaking of the fish oil research, co-author Dr Megan O'Mara – from the Australian National University – said: "This chink in the armour of harmful bacteria is an important step forward in combatting the rise of superbugs that are developing multi-drug resistance to antibiotics."

Bacteria acquire mutations that may aid their survival as they mutate. (Stock, Getty Images)Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections, however, medics have mistakenly prescribed the drugs for viruses, like colds and flu. This gives bacteria a better shot of developing resistance.

Patients failing to take antibiotics as prescribed, for example coming off them too soon, also contributes to the problem.In 2015,In the US, at least 30% of the drugs prescribed are considered to be "unnecessary".One of the most well-known examples is methicillin-resistant

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