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Shorten the use of antibiotics with the body's own infection marker
The discovery of antibiotics is one of the most important developments in medical history, because they can be used to cure previously life-threatening infections. However, treatment with the medication is often lengthy. Researchers are now reporting that antibiotic therapy can be shortened using an endogenous infection marker.
Reduce side effects
Although antibiotics help fight bacterial infectious diseases and thereby prevent the spread of pathogens, experts have repeatedly pointed out that such drugs are used less frequently and correctly. After all, the use of antibiotics often leads to serious side effects. However, researchers are now reporting that such side effects and the duration of treatment can be reduced.
Reduce antibiotic use
As researchers from the University of Basel and the Aarau Cantonal Hospital reported in a communication, the use of antibiotics for infections can be controlled in a targeted manner with the body's own infection marker procalcitonin.
Antibiotic therapy is shortened, but its side effects and mortality also decrease.
This was shown in a meta-analysis of over 6,700 international data from patients with respiratory infections.
The results have now been published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
Hardly or not at all detectable in healthy people
Procalcitonin is the precursor of a thyroid hormone, which is hardly or not detectable in healthy people. However, if there is bacterial inflammation in the body, the substance procalcitonin suddenly increases in the blood.
Doctors can take advantage of this mechanism when diagnosing infectious diseases - as is well known, antibiotic treatment is only useful for bacterial infections.
This plays an important role in respiratory infections, for example, since it is often difficult to differentiate between bacterial and viral infections.
It is already known that the use of procalcitonin can reduce antibiotic therapy by around 30 percent.
In various randomized studies - including at the University of Basel - the treating physicians were given a recommendation based on the procalcitonin value as to whether antibiotics were necessary or whether these could be stopped.
This strategy with the biomarker was then compared with a control group that decided on the use of antibiotics based on purely clinical criteria.
Against the formation of resistance
For the study, 26 research groups from twelve countries made the data of 6,708 patients available and analyzed - in line with the global trend of data sharing, which can be used to better characterize individual patient groups.
The meta-analysis led by Prof. Dr. Philipp Schuetz from the Department of Clinical Research at the University and University Hospital Basel and the Cantonal Hospital in Aarau shows that the infection marker procalcitonin reduces mortality in patients with respiratory infections.
A 30% reduction in relative mortality after 30 days (from 10% to 8.6%) and a 25% reduction in antibiotic side effects (from 22.1% to 16.3%) were achieved.
"These results also give hope that the global trend in antibiotic resistance development can be counteracted," said Schuetz.
And that would be a great advantage indeed. Finally, such resistances must be combated with determination, as effective antibiotics are becoming increasingly scarce worldwide. (ad)