Imperfect Drug Penetration May Accelerate Pathogen Resistance

A pathogen can develop resistance faster in a “pocket” of the body where only one drug is present compared to where no pockets exist, a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has shown.

Pleuni Plennings, an assistant professor of biology at San Francisco State University, and colleagues ran computer simulations to examine the behavior of pathogens in response to changes in the drugs used in treatment and their levels of penetration. The team found an accelerated resistance against both drugs even where small parts of the body were reached by one drug when compared to situations where no pockets existed.

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Plennings added that it may sometimes be better to “leave a pocket of the body without any drugs instead of leaving a pocket with just one drug.” This may impact treatment regimens for HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, and other diseases. Researchers recommend that physicians consider which parts of the body each drug will target, and also whether choosing drugs with imperfect but similar penetrations might be the optimal choice.

Additional research will focus on the most effective drug combinations by studying which parts of the body cannot be reached by certain drugs and how quickly some pathogens can develop resistance.

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