A new research suggests that triclosan, a chemical compound used in personal care and household products like dishwashing liquids, toothpastes, soaps, deodorants etc., can make the bacteria resilient to antibiotics. This compound is added to these products as it is believed that the chemical has the ability to kill the bacteria that makes people sick. However, according to the research conducted by Petra Levin, a biology professor at Washington University, triclosan can make the bacteria stronger and resilient to antibiotics.
The study examined triclosan’s effect when bactericidal antibiotics are present in our cells, a kind of antibiotics that can kill bacteria instead of just restricting their growth. The researchers of the study examined the behavior of cells when E.coli and MRSA bacteria were treated with bactericidal antibiotics. The study found that triclosan increased the number of E. coli and MRSA that are tolerant to these antibiotics around 10,000 fold.
Professor Levin said that triclosan increased the surviving bacterial cells significantly. Usually one out of a million cells is tolerant to antibiotics, and a healthy immune system can control these cells. But triclosan was changing the number of such cells, said Professor Levin. She added that instead of one out of a million bacteria, one in ten survived after 20 hours and this was now overwhelming the immune system.
The researchers of the study added triclosan to the drinking water of the rodents with UTI. They treated the mice with ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic. The researchers observed that the mice that drank triclosan had higher levels of bacteria in their urine and in their bladder when compared with the rodents that did not drink triclosan.
The researchers suggest that the study highlights the consequence of adding higher amount of such chemicals in consumer products. They added that there is an immediate need to evaluate the benefits of preventive use of triclosan and other such compounds.