Fish oil supplements could combat antibiotic resistance

bdmetronews Desk ॥ Fish oil supplements may break down “superbugs” that have become resistant to antibiotics, research suggests.

The World Health Organization has called antibiotic resistance “one of the biggest threats to human health”. Infections that are currently considered to be almost harmless may one day be incurable, with once-effective drugs becoming useless.

Antibiotics become less effective the more they are used. Inappropriate prescriptions and patients failing to take the drugs properly mean many bacterial infections have evolved resistance, bypassing the medication that is trying to destroy them.

Scientists from Flinders University in Adelaide have now found taking fish oil fatty acids alongside antibiotics may help to ward off resistance.

Writing in the journal mBio, the team explains how fish oil supplements have antimicrobial properties, offering a safe and easily-accessible solution to drug resistance.

The research is in its infancy, with it being unclear how many supplements a person may have to take to help combat the problem.

“Our studies indicate a major antibiotic resistance mechanism in cells can be negatively impacted by the uptake of omega-3 dietary lipids,” said study author Dr Bart Eijkelkamp.

“In the experiments, and complementary supercomputer modelling, we found these fatty acids in fish oil renders the bacteria more susceptible to various common antibiotics.”

The scientists focused on the bacteria Acinetobacter baumannii. Often picked up in hospital, A. baumannii have developed “unprecedented levels of antibiotic resistance around the world”.

“Our research showed fish oil fatty acids become part of the bacteria membrane, and thus make the invading bacteria membrane more permeable and susceptible to the antibiotics being used to attack it,” said co-author Dr Felise Adams.

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