New harmful side effect discovered with every fourth medicine
Antibiotics are known to be a killer of bacteria that fight beneficial and harmful bacteria. In addition, a recent study has found that more than one in four drugs affects bacteria that occur naturally in the human gut. This previously unknown side effect may have a long term adverse effect on health and also contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance without taking antibiotics.
A team of European researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory found an unknown side effect in more than a quarter of the more than 1,000 drugs studied. According to the study, every fourth drug has a detrimental effect on up to 40 different bacterial species, which are of crucial importance to our intestinal flora (microbiome). The exact effects of this influence are not yet known. Researchers believe a long-term negative effect on health is likely. The results of the study were recently presented in the renowned journal Nature.
Intestinal flora is gaining importance in health research
Studies carried out over the last decade have repeatedly shown the importance of the composition of the intestinal microbiome for general health. It has long been known that antibiotics cause massive damage to the intestinal flora. This effect also occurs in many non-antibiotics, however, it was previously unknown up to this point.
This is just the tip of the iceberg
The current study by Nature describes for the first time how one in four non-antibiotic drugs inhibits the growth of various intestinal bacteria. This unknown side effect was found in drugs of all therapeutic classes. "How many different types of drugs affect intestinal microbes was really surprising," says group leader Peer Bork in a press release on the results of the study. Bork considers this discovery only by the tip of the iceberg. The data from the study suggest that the actual number of drugs with this side effect is even greater.
Collateral effect with unknown consequence
"We still do not know how most of these drugs work in microbes, how these effects manifest themselves in the human host, and how it affects, for example, the health of patients," adds Kiran Patil. This relationship needs to be investigated immediately to improve understanding and effectiveness of existing drugs.
Resistance to antibiotics without antibiotics
In addition to potential health risks, influencing intestinal microbes could also contribute to the development of resistance to antibiotics without the use of antibiotics. The researchers explain that this is related to general mechanisms of resistance that work against antibiotics and other drugs. "It's really scary considering that people take medications throughout their lives, often over long periods of time," explains Nassos Typas of the study team.
In the field of intestinal bacteria, much is still not understood
"Fortunately, not all antibiotics do not affect intestinal bacteria and not all resistance will continue to spread," says Typas. Interestingly, resistance to certain antibiotics may even increase the effectiveness of certain antibiotics. This, in turn, opens up new possibilities for ideal drug combinations.
Every person has a different intestinal flora
"All people differ in the composition of their microbiome, which could explain why different patients react differently to the same drugs," says Georg Zeller of the research team. In addition to some bacterial species we all have in common, some people would have completely different bacterial strains inside their microbiome, the specialist said. This speaks in favor of a personalized treatment adapted to the individual intestinal microbioma of the patient. More information on the intestinal flora can be found in the article: Building intestinal flora: this is how it works!
The gut has a huge impact on our health
The exact effects of intestinal microbes are still being investigated in numerous surveys. It is becoming increasingly clear that the microbiome in the gut has a huge impact on our overall health. For example, the secret of a healthy heart is in the intestinal flora. This was discovered recently by another research team at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Researchers have shown that changes in the intestinal microbiome can affect the health of the heart with age. (Vb)