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Research: Not just antibiotics - every fourth drug destroys our intestinal flora

Research: Not just antibiotics - every fourth drug destroys our intestinal flora


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New harmful side effect discovered in every fourth drug

Antibiotics are known to be a bacterial killer that fight both beneficial and harmful bacteria. A recent study has now revealed that more than every fourth drug affects the bacteria naturally occurring in the human intestine. This hitherto unknown side effect could have a long-term negative impact on health and also contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance without taking antibiotics.

A European research team from the “European Molecular Biology Laboratory” found a previously unknown side effect in more than a quarter of the more than 1,000 drugs examined. According to the study, around every fourth drug has a harmful effect on up to 40 different types of bacteria, which are crucial for our intestinal flora (microbiome). The exact effects of this influence have not yet been foreseen. The researchers believe a long-term negative health effect is likely. The study results were recently presented in the renowned journal "Nature".

Gut flora is gaining importance in health research

Studies over the past ten years have repeatedly shown how important the composition of the gut microbiome is for the general state of health. Antibiotic drugs have long been known to cause massive damage to the intestinal flora. To this extent, it was previously unknown that this effect also occurs with numerous non-antibiotics.

This is just the tip of the iceberg

The current Nature study describes for the first time how around every fourth non-antibiotic drug inhibits the growth of various intestinal bacteria. This unknown side effect was evident in medicinal products from all therapeutic classes. "How many different types of medication affect the gut microbes was really surprising," group leader Peer Bork emphasized in a press release on the study results. Bork considers this discovery to be just the tip of the iceberg. The data from the study suggest that the actual number of drugs with this side effect is even greater.

Side effect with an unknown consequence

"We do not yet know how most of these drugs act on the microbes, how these effects come to light in the human host, and how this affects patients' health, for example," adds colleague Kiran Patil. This relationship must be investigated immediately to improve the understanding and effectiveness of existing drugs.

Antibiotic resistance without antibiotics

In addition to the possible health risks, influencing the intestinal microbes can also contribute to the development of resistance to antibiotics without taking antibiotics. The researchers explain that this is related to general resistance mechanisms that work against both antibiotics and other drugs. "This is really scary when you consider that people take medication all their lives, often over long periods of time," explains Nassos Typas from the study team.

Much is not yet understood in the area of ​​intestinal bacteria

“Fortunately, not all non-antibiotics have an effect on intestinal bacteria and not all resistances will spread further,” said Typas. Interestingly, resistance to certain non-antibiotics could even increase the effectiveness of certain antibiotics. This in turn opens up new possibilities for optimal drug combinations.

Everyone 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 medication," reports Georg Zeller from the research team. In addition to some types of bacteria that we all have in common, some experts would have completely different strains of bacteria within their microbiome, the expert said. This speaks for a personalized treatment tailored to the individual intestinal microbiome of the patient. You can find further information on intestinal flora in the article: Building intestinal flora: how it works!

The gut has a massive impact on our health

The exact effects of the gut microbes are still being researched in numerous researches. It is becoming increasingly clear that the microbiome in the gut has a huge impact on our general health. For example, the secret of a healthy heart is in the intestinal flora. This was recently discovered by another research team from the University of Colorado Boulder. The researchers showed that changes in the gut microbiome can affect heart health with age. (vb)

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