Watch Bacteria Evolve to Defeat Antibiotics in Just 11 Days

Time-lapse video shows importance of good antibiotic stewardship

This analysis was updated on November 11, 2016 to credit the Kishony lab’s location at both Harvard University and Technion - Israel Institute of Technology.

As the use of antibiotics increases, the ability of bacteria to resist them grows, too. That is why minimizing the inappropriate use of these drugs is essential to combatting antibiotic resistance.

A new video from the Kishony lab  at Harvard University and Technion - Israel Institute of Technology shows just how quickly bacteria “learn” to defeat antibiotics. In the stunning two-minute time-lapse recording, viewers can see bacteria develop resistance to increasingly higher doses of antibiotics.  

Steps can be taken to slow the emergence of resistance, but it can’t be stopped altogether. Sooner or later, bacteria will evolve to defeat every drug on the pharmacy shelf. So, in addition to stewardship, policymakers, industry, academia, and the nonprofit sector need to invest in antibiotic innovation to help bring urgently needed new treatments to bear in the war against superbugs.

Kathy Talkington is director of Pew’s antibiotic resistance project. 

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