Antibiotic resistance has become a pressing issue for researchers and healthcare professionals. This phenomenon occurs when a bacterial infection no longer responds to the antibiotics that doctors typically use to treat it.
This resistance often develops due to the misuse or overuse of antibiotics, as many individuals across the world mistakenly opt for antibiotics to treat viral infections, such as the influenza virus (the flu), against which these drugs are ineffective.
A new study in mice by researchers from the Francis Crick Institute in London, United Kingdom, now suggests that antibiotics could actually also "prime" the lungs for viral infections.
The researchers' findings, which feature in the journal Cell Reports, also show that gut bacteria drive a type of protein signaling that helps the cells that line the lungs keep the flu virus from spreading.
Antibiotic use, it seems, interferes with this protein signaling and thus impairs this first line of defense.
"We found that antibiotics can wipe out early flu resistance, adding further evidence that they should not be taken or prescribed lightly," explains lead researcher Andreas Wack, Ph.D.