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Posted August 24, 2014: by Bill Sardi
Now that virtually every antibiotic is countered by drug-resistant forms of bacteria some biologists believe humanity has entered the post-antibiotic era. [Health Communications Aug 2014] The Centers for Disease Control estimates 23,000 people die each year to antibiotic-resistant infection. [CDC]
The obvious tactic against infection would then be to utilize vaccines. However, vaccines depend upon an intact immune system. Even a flu vaccine that includes an adjuvant to provoke a stronger immune response (produce antibodies) is only 60% effective for older adults with compromised immune systems, the group at highest risk for flu-related death. [Vaccine Dec 9, 2013] Researchers report one flu vaccine put to the test in Europe was of no benefit in preventing influenza-like illness among adults over age 60. [PLoS One April 30, 2013] Flu vaccines are also largely ineffective among children under age 2, which is the other group at highest risk for flu-related death. [Annals Pediatrics Oct 2013]
The inability of vaccines to “fully mobilize the appropriate immune response” is a drawback that is not being adequately addressed. [Nature Biotechnology Nov 1998]
Enter the realm of endogenous antibiotics produced naturally within the body. These are called cathelicidins and defensins or antibiotic peptides as so-called natural antibiotics. A deficiency of defensins and cathelicidins can result in allergies, for example. They are known to disrupt the outer cell membrane of pathogenic bacteria. [Journal Leukocyte Biology May 2001]
What goes overlooked in prevention of infectious disease is what is called host defense, in particular antibiotic peptides (amino acids holding hands) that are now considered “front-line immunomodulators.” [Trends Immunology Aug 8, 2014] In fact, these cathelicidins and defensins are now being hailed as the “new hope for the post-antibiotic era.” [Innate Immunity June 2013; Protein Peptide Letters 2008]
Biologists indicate these host defense peptides are “an important line of immunity in virtually all forms of life” and “may represent a promising antibiotic-alternative to disease control.” [PLoS One Nov 2011]
Pharmaceutical industry drags their feet
The pharmaceutical industry concedes natural antibiotic peptides can be compared to traditional antibiotics and “can be a new hope in developing novel, effective and safe therapeutics without antibiotic resistance.”
However, the pharmaceutical industry has cast these natural antibiotics aside saying “they couldn’t go into the drug markets because of problems in application such as toxicity, manufacturing cost, size and molecular size.” [Archives Pharmaceutical Research March 2012]
This sounds like double-talk. Thousands of lives are being snuffed out needlessly due to antibiotic resistance and Big Pharma may not want the world to find a more efficacious and economical remedies.
While these natural antibiotic peptides have been identified, Big Pharma only wants to use them as a basis for “opening new avenues to development of anti-infectious agents.” [Pharmaceuticals May 2014] In other words, drugs. Knowledge of these antibiotic peptides goes back at least three decades and modern medicine has yet to translate that knowledge into safe, viable and economical treatments.
How to activate intrabiotics
So how do humans activate these antibiotic peptides (aka host defense peptides) known as cathelicidins and defensins into action?
Certain molecules are listed as agents that induce these natural endogenous antibiotics and include vitamin D3, spices and herbs such as resveratrol from red wine and curcumin from turmeric spice, nicotinamide (vitamin B3) and butyrate which emanates from the digestive tract when the bacteria digest dietary fiber. Butyrate is also a dietary supplement. [Molecular Nutrition Food Research March 2014]
Categorically it is not permissible to say any commercial brand of these natural molecules or combinations boost immunity and can treat or prevent disease, but self-care regimens should include them as they are relatively safe.
Of interest, some of these activators of cathelicidins and defensins work together synergistically rather than just additively. For example, resveratrol boosts the first responders in the immune system (innate immunity) in conjunctions with vitamin D3. [Molecular Nutrition Food Research March 2014] There is more than speculation over use of multiple antibiotic peptides together.
Application of intrabiotics
Why must the world wait for this new class of antibiotics to undergo human clinical testing? Would such a studies be unethical? You can’t morally use a placebo among patients who are suffering with a life-threatening infection. In fact, the first antibiotics including penicillin progressed into common use without double-blind placebo-controlled studies.
And why aren’t we boosting the human immune system with these internal “intrabiotics” to treat cancer today? Experiments began at least two decades ago and have gone nowhere. [Anticancer Research Nov 1992; Biochemical Pharmacology Nov 1989; Biochemical & Biophysical Research Communications June 1984; Recent Results Cancer Research 2003]
Given there is no sure cure for cancer it would seem unconscionable not to employ these natural intrabiotics in the treatment of cancer to boost the immune response.
These intrabiotics may be particularly helpful in the treatment and prevention of colon cancer [Journal Nutrition Nov 2007], in the control and eradication of Helicobacter pylori that is a known cause of gastritis, ulcers and gastric cancer [Chemical & Pharmaceutical Bulletin 2013], traveler’s diarrhea [Travel Medicine Infectious Disease March 2014], Shigella infection [Proceedings National Academy Science June 2013], Crohn’s disease [Journal Biological Chemistry Jan 2010], and to curb the use of antibiotic drugs on the farm. [PLos One Nov 2012]
These internal antibiotics are also deemed to be effective in the treatment of infections of internal organs remote from the digestive tract, such as the lung [Proceedings Nutrition Society Feb 2012], brain (meningitis) [Journal Innate Immunity 2014] and inner eye (retina) [Journal Infectious Disease Jan 2010].
In chronic skin conditions such as rosacea, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, cathelicidins are overproduced. There may be ways to alleviate these skin conditions with intrabiotic activators. [Drug Discovery Today Disease Mechanisms Dec 2013; Annals Dermatology May 2012] For example, psoriasis patients have been found to have low vitamin D levels. (Vitamin D is known to normalize the immune response.) [Indian journal of dermatology, venereology and leprology July 2013]
We have all viewed horrid photographs of patients suffering and even dying of flesh-eating bacterial infections. The technical name for this skin infection is necrotizing fasciitis and it is caused by Streptococcus A, the same bacteria that causes Strep throat. There are about 600-700 of these cases diagnosed each year in the US and about 25-30% of these cases result in death. [WebMD]
These deadly flesh-eating infections have been quelled by cathelicidins in animals but treatment resistant forms exhibit inability of these intrabiotics to kill off these germs. [Journal Innate Immunity 2009; Infection & Immunity Aug 2008] Possibly the synergistic use of natural molecules such as vitamin D3, butyrate and resveratrol would overcome this rare occurrence of germ resistance. ©2014 Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc.