Here’s a confusing press release from the University of Gothenburg. Researcher Jonas Warringer is trying to find ways to slow the rate of genetic adaptation in certain microbes down to keep them from evolving resistance to antibiotics. But look at this (and I translate):
Slowed-down evolution can counteract antibiotic resistance
The resistance of an infectious agent against antibiotics is particularly serious when it comes to drugs made from fungi, penicillin for instance. Fungal cells are similar to human ones, which makes it hard to develop drugs that hit fungal cells (and are effective) but leave human cells unharmed (thus avoiding side effects).
Evolution creates random variations in the traits of an organism, which shows in infectious agents as an improved resistance against the drugs they encounter. In the end we get completely resistant fungal strains — and the drug becomes ineffective.
What the press release fails to mention is that we usually use antibiotics against bacterial infections, not fungal ones. The research reported on is in fact irrelevant to the much-publicised concerns about MRSA and other bacterial strains that have evolved resistance to antibiotics. Looks like an attempt to ride the publicity wave of a separate issue.
Bruce Chatwin did have fungal trouble, though. Check out my homage.