Student and professor research antibiotic resistance

With hope to eventually save people time and money on medications they may need, UNA nursing alumna Allison Shelton and associate biology professor Lisa Ann Blankenship are researching antibiotic resistance. 

The research began after the two met for the first time as randomly assigned roommates during a medical mission trip last summer. They got to know each other and saw the problem and need for this research, both in Shelton’s nursing career and in Blankenship’s teaching career, Blankenship said in an email. 

“One of the things we would like to do is increase the awareness of antibiotic resistance and also decrease the over-prescription of antibiotics when they’re not necessary,” Shelton said.

Different types of bacteria are evolving and changing faster than companies produce antibiotics to combat them, she said.

“The problem now is that antibiotics are the ‘go to’ drug for almost any infection, so they don’t work as well when we really need them for a bacterial illness,” Blankenship said. “With Allison’s project, we hope to develop a test that can be used by medical care providers that will tell if a patient can receive a particular type of antibiotic for an infection.”

The two hope their research will result in better antibiotic prescriptions that work with specific infections, Blankenship said.

“Hopefully, it will give healthcare a low-cost and effective test that will help them better prescribe medications,” Blankenship said. “If, as a global community, antibiotics (can) be better regulated, then that will help to prolong antibiotic usefulness, which would really help healthcare.”

In an era where antibiotics no longer cure simple infections and injuries, these ailments will once again become deadly, like they were before antibiotics existed, according to the World Health Organization.

People need to give their bodies the tools they need, and they should only take antibiotics as needed, Shelton said.

Blankenship urges people to maintain good health to combat this issue.

People should only take their antibiotics as prescribed (and finish their prescription), get plenty of sleep and exercise, eat properly, drink water and ultimately, take care of themselves, she said.