Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


The naked science of antibiotic resistance

August 8, 2014

The naked science of antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance and the rise of phage therapy as a solution to this potentially life-threatening issue is one of the topics to be discussed by a Massey researcher on Radio New Zealand this Saturday.

Dr Heather Hendrickson, a lecturer in molecular biosciences, will talk about her research into antibiotic resistance on the Naked Scientists show.

Two shows – one in Auckland and one in Wellington – are being recorded, with material from both shows to be featured on BBC Radio 5 Live, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Dr Hendrickson is a regular commentator on the issue of antibiotic resistance and phage therapy, which involves the use of viruses to infect and destroy harmful bacteria.

Dr Hendrickson has studied bacterial evolution for the past 15 years. She hopes her research will contribute to finding ways to protect the wider public from this potential health crisis. “The issue of antibiotic resistance is one that looms large in our future as the effectiveness of this common medicine weakens and potentially becomes obsolete, leaving our immune systems to singularly fight bacteria and infection,” she says.

“We are looking at a post-antibiotic era where infections that arise from simple injuries could be resistant to our antibiotics and therefore life-threatening to any one of us,” says Dr Hendrickson.

A World Health Organization report released in April states: “this serious threat is no longer a prediction for the future, it is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country. Antibiotic resistance – when bacteria change so antibiotics no longer work in people who need them to treat infections – is now a major threat to public health."

Dr Hendrickson has analysed this report and posted an explanation on her blog This Microbial Life about how New Zealand is directly affected. The issue is not just restricted to resistance in humans either.

“Agriculture and government need to accept their involvement as well by investing in research and taking action to prevent unnecessary antibiotic use,” she says.

Dr Hendrickson is an advocate for bacteriophage therapy as an alternative to antibiotics.

“Phage therapy is the application of a cocktail of appropriate phages [viruses that infect bacteria] in order to combat specific bacteria,” she says. “Gone will be the days of taking an antibiotic with broad-spectrum killing of the important and beneficial microorganisms in our bodies. Infections will be handled by taking a small dose of your enemies’ enemy.”

For more information on Dr Hendrickson’s research go to:
Her most recent interview on Radio New Zealand’s Sunday Morning show with Wallace Chapman is here.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Oceans: NOAA Declares Third Ever Global Coral Bleaching Event

As record ocean temperatures cause widespread coral bleaching across Hawaii, NOAA scientists confirm the same stressful conditions are expanding to the Caribbean and may last into the new year, prompting the declaration of the third global coral bleaching event ever on record. More>>

Scoop Business: A Decade Of Government Pre-Seed Investment

More publicly-funded science is being commercialised after a decade of government ‘pre-see’d investment, according to an independent review. More>>


Solid Energy: Plan To Shut Unprofitable Huntly East Mine

Solid Energy, the state-owned coal miner in voluntary administration, plans to shut down its unprofitable Huntly East mine and lay off 65 staff after deciding the site stands "no chance whatsoever" of finding a buyer. More>>


E Tū: Merger Creates NZ's Biggest Private Sector Union

E tū has been created by the merger of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union and Service and Food Workers’ Union. It represents more than 50,000 working New Zealanders in industries as diverse as aviation, construction, journalism, food manufacturing, mining and cleaning. More>>


Internet: NZ Govt Lifts Target Speeds For Rural Broadband

The government has lifted its expectations on faster broadband speeds for rural New Zealand as it targets increased spending on research and development in the country's information and communications technology sector, which it sees as a key driver for export growth. More>>


Banks: Westpac Keeps Core Government Transactions Contract

The local arm of Westpac Banking Corp has kept its contract with the New Zealand government to provide core transactions, but will have to share peripheral services with its rivals. More>>


Science Investment Plan: Universities Welcome Statement

Universities New Zealand has welcomed the National Statement of Science Investment released by the Government today... this is a critical document as it sets out the Government’s ten-year strategic direction that will guide future investment in New Zealand’s science system. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news