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New study suggests antibiotics can weaken the immune system*

As more strains of bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, scientists are warning that we could soon return to the “dark ages of medicine,” where our drugs are ineffective against even the most basic of infections. While investigating the side effects of antibiotics and how bacteria can develop resistance to them, researchers from MIT and Harvard have found that the drugs can actually work against the body, weakening the immune system’s ability to fight off the bugs*.

“You generally assume that antibiotics will significantly impact the bacterial cells, yet here they seem to be triggering responses in mammalian cells,” says James Collins, senior author of the study. “The drugs are producing changes that are actually counterproductive to the treatment effort. They reduce the bacterial susceptibility to antibiotics, and the drugs themselves reduce the functional benefit of the immune cells.”*

While it sure doesn’t sound like good news, the researchers say that it’s helpful to improve our understanding of what antibiotics are doing to the immune system*.

*The research was published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe. Source: Broad Institute. You can read the full article here: