Triclosan is a common household antibiotic that is found in products ranging fro soap to deodorant. There have been many questions raised as to the ability of triclosan to promote antibiotic resistance to bacteria.
Antibiotics are a class of substances that can kill or inhibit the growth of some group of microorganisms, such as bacteria. Pencillin, the first antibiotics were derivatives of molds and fungi. While other antibiotics are being taken from nature, many modern antibiotics are synthetically created. Antibiotics are classified based on how the antibiotics are obtained (natural or synthetic, how they are structured and how they kill or inhibit cell growth. There are four main ways bacteria are killed by antibiotics inhibition of cell wall biosynthesis, protein synthesis, DNA replication and repair and folate synthesis
There is growing concern over the emerging problem of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance is defined as “the ability of a bacterium or other microorganism to survive and reproduce in the presence of antibiotic doses that were previously thought effective against them. When antibiotics were first developed, they were used solely7 for medical purposes. However, today antibiotics and antibacterial substances can be found in many consumer and household items. Presently, there are more than seven hundred antibiotic products being marketed and sold for at home use. The widespread marketing and use of antibiotics has lead to the problem of antibiotic resistance in bacteria.
There are three main mechanisms in which bacteria resists antibiotics. They are inactivation or modification of the antibiotic, reduction of drug accumulation (efflux pumping/decreasing drug permeability, and alteration of the molecular target in the bacteria. A bacterium acquires resistance to an antibiotic when it undergoes a chromosomal mutation that allows it to perform on of the mechanisms mentioned above. After the bacterium acquires the particular mutation that allows it to resist the antibiotic, it is selected out of the population by either artificial selection or natural selection. The resistant bacterium then reproduces by conjugation and passes its exact DNA. The mutation that gives the bacterium resistance passes it to its offspring through asexual reproduction in vertical gene transfer using a plasmid and conjugation. After a long period of time, a group of bacteria becomes resistant to an antibiotic. Resistance is a natural process that occurs in bacteria; studies areas, such as the Kalahari, where antibiotics have not been used revealed the presence of antibiotic resistant bacteria. However, in the past years, the increased use and sale of antibiotics has lead to a rise of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. Based on these two facts, it can be concluded that antibiotics do not create resistant strains of bacteria but speed up the process by which they are created. The use of antibiotics selects out the resistant bacteria and kills the susceptible bacteria, speeding up the process of selection.
Triclosan is an antibacterial agent that is found in a variety of household products, such as deodorant, dish soap, toothpaste and hand soap. Triclosan prevents biosynthesis of lipids from occurring by blocking the enzyme enyol-acyl carrier protein reductase, or ENR. To do this, triclosan bonds to the ENR enzyme and acts as the exzyme’s natural substrate; this leads to the bacteria’s inability for lipid biosynthesis for its cell membrane and death. Due to triclosan’s similarity to the natural substrate of ENR it is able to tightly lock with the ENR enzyme and kill the cell effectively. Because humans do not have an enzyme that is targeted by triclosan, they are not affected by the chemical. Making triclosan an optimal product