Could medieval medicine books hold the keys to the future of antibiotics? While these ancient techniques of times past have been regarded as outdated and irrelevant, scientists are seeking to breathe new life into these long-forgotten cures. In fact, medieval remedies could become the cornerstone of new antibiotic medicines.
As antibiotic-resistant microbes continue to evolve and spread, the search for alternatives becomes ever more important–and where better to turn for ideas than the medicine books of centuries past, during a time when modern antibiotics had yet to come into existence?
Currently, about 700,000 people around the world die each year from a drug-resistant infection, and sadly, this number is expected to continue to grow unless a serious change is made. By 2050, 10 million people are expected to succumb to these resistant infections each year.
Progress in finding new antibiotics has been a slow undertaking; in fact, one might even go so far as to say it’s come to a grinding halt. But the “Ancientbiotics” team is on the hunt for an alternative. The team is made up of medievalists, microbiologists, medicinal chemists, parasitologists, pharmacists and data scientists from a variety of universities around the globe. And together, they hope to use cures from the past to inspire new, more modern treatments. They believe that the answer to the crisis of antibiotic resistance lies somewhere in the history of medicine–and they’re willing to reach back to Medieval times to find it.
The hope is that they can unravel how these pre-modern physicians treated infections, and determine if the treatments actually work. “By revealing patterns in medieval medical practice, our database could inform future laboratory research into the materials used to treat infection in the past,” they explain.
It’s hoped that further research will show some of these ancient cures actually work, and were more than just placebos or comforting aids. And hopefully, the cure will come before it’s too late.