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Understanding antibiotic resistance
Understanding antibiotic resistance

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Week 1: A future without antibiotics?


Welcome to Week 1 of this free course, Understanding antibiotic resistance.

In this week you will read about common bacterial pathogens and how antibiotics can be used to treat bacterial infections. You will then step back in time, through the medium of video, to consider how and with what success infections were once treated. After a brief review of key scientific advances that heralded the discovery of antibiotics, you will consider how these life-saving drugs revolutionised medical care.

Back in the present, you will analyse data from different countries highlighting the growing problem of antibiotic resistance worldwide. You will be introduced to factors, covered in more detail later in the course, that have contributed to this problem.

Finally, you will listen to scientists discussing the potential threat to modern medicine of antibiotic resistance and will begin to form your own opinion about it.

Start by watching the video below which reveals how the natural processes of bacteria are exploited to fight infections – and how bacteria fight back!

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Video 1 Antibiotics.
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By the end of this week, you should be able to:

  • recall why pathogenic bacteria pose a threat to human health
  • define the term antibiotic and give examples
  • describe the importance of antibiotics in modern health care
  • analyse antibiotic data and make simple deductions about antibiotic use and resistance patterns
  • discuss the consequences of a future without antibiotics.

Although this is an introductory course to antibiotic resistance, it assumes that you have a basic understanding of DNA and proteins. If you are unfamiliar with these concepts, you may want to try our free OpenLearn course What do genes do? [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] or listen to our set of audios on DNA, RNA and protein formation before you start this course.