Antibiotics given for free in Florida Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Gli Antibiotici che Funzionano

MEXICO CITY – Dalla scoperta della penicillina nel 1928 all’introduzione dell’ultimo dei principali gruppi di antibiotici negli anni sessanta, la capacità dell’umanità di combattere i batteri patogeni si è evoluta molto efficacemente. Ma, nel tempo, il numero di antibiotici a cui i batteri sono sensibili è andato diminuendo, ed alcuni agenti patogeni sono diventati resistenti alla maggior parte se non a tutti i farmaci esistenti. Di conseguenza, infezioni una volta curabili stanno diventando di nuovo letali.

La resistenza agli antibiotici genera già un numero di decessi stimati pari a circa 700.000 unità all’anno, con costi finanziari che raggiungono decine di miliardi di dollari. Considerato che la resistenza agli antibiotici continua a minacciare la nostra capacità di curare tumori, trapiantare organi, ed impiantare protesi, queste cifre sono destinate solo ad aumentare.

Molti fattori hanno contribuito ad innalzare la resistenza agli antibiotici. I batteri possono riprodursi e mutare rapidamente, e sono in grado di stabilire una sorta di “Internet genetica” che consente a determinati tipi patogeni di “scaricare” geni resistenti agli antibiotici. Inoltre, la maggior parte degli antibiotici sono prodotti naturali di batteri del suolo, in cui tale resistenza può verificarsi naturalmente. Quando gli antibiotici prodotti dall’uomo sono stati introdotti su larga scala, i batteri resistenti sono diventati i più diffusi.

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