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Scientists are sure: an antibiotic can affect the virus

24 August 2018, 09:00

Everyone knows that an antibiotic does not have antiviral activity. The antibiotic acts on the cell - whether it's a bacterium, a fungus or a tumor structure - and causes it to violate molecular processes. As a result, the cell dies. The virus does not have a cellular organization: it's just a complex of nucleic acids with proteins. Therefore, the antibiotic can not affect the viral activity.
Scientists are sure: such arguments are valid, if we talk separately about the virus, and separately - about antibiotics. But after all, the virus does not live in a vacuum space: for reproduction, it needs to penetrate into the cell, which is included in the composition of tissues and entire organs. Is the virus able to feel the presence of an antibiotic - for example, against a background of changing habitat conditions?

Scientists have long been trying to figure out how the susceptibility of viruses changes in the presence of antibiotics. There were no unequivocal results on this issue.
Not so long ago, experts conducted another experiment, which examined the development of the herpes simplex virus . This virus is able to penetrate through any mucous tissues: in this project, antibiotics were used to treat the vaginal mucosa of rodents. It was found that antibiotics suppressed the processes of viral reproduction, which led to a weakening of the symptoms of the disease. That is, antibiotics did not allow a viral infection to show all its strength.
Initially, a combination of several antibiotics was used in the experiment. However, after the scientists wanted to determine which particular preparation possesses the detected antiviral effect - first of all, for better understanding of the mechanism of drug activity. Antimicrobial antibiotic was Neomycin. This drug stimulated intracellular genes that controlled antiviral protection. A more detailed mechanism of action of the drug is still unknown. However, it is already becoming clear: the effect of antibiotic therapy is not only the destruction of microbes, but also the effect on the entire molecular-cellular process.
Specialists tested the action of Neomycin and another virus on the influenza virus. However, here the activity of the drug has changed: after administration of the drug in the nasal passages of rodents, their resistance to the viral strain increased several fold. Without Neomycin, diseased mice died, and under the influence of the drug, 40% of the rodents survived.
Of course, this can not mean that antibiotics must be used massively to treat a viral infection. First, not every antibiotic demonstrates similar effects. Secondly, not every virus reacts in this way to an antibiotic. Thirdly, it is still unclear whether antibiotic therapy for viral infection has a tangible benefit - after all, as is known, antibacterial drugs are destructive and beneficial to the flora in the body.
So far, scientists have commented on the results of the study: even ordinary, at first glance, drugs - for example, antibiotics - can surprise us. There is still no question of any clinical application of this finding.
Details of the study are available at www.nature.com/articles/s41564-018-0138-2

Last update: 05.10.2018
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Portnov Alexey Alexandrovich

Education: Kiev National Medical University. A.A. Bogomolets, Specialty - "General Medicine"

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