Subject: Penicillin, Gene Variation and Allergy Reaction
Article: ¨Penicillin allergies may be linked to one immune system gene¨
One of the first antibiotics that had saved many lives from various infections had been discovered in 1928 by Alexander Fleming. Penicillin is the drug known to inhibit bacterial growth. Penicillin despite being a powerful antibiotic for most infections has been reported as causing allergic reactions such as hypersensitivity, hives, wheezing, vomiting, fevers and more. As a result of there being a variation within the cells and genes of the immune system that seeks out bacteria and viruses. The genetic variation can be seen on the DNA of someone's DNA and until recently on a specific gene known as HLA-B. HLA-B is the gene that codes to make proteins that help determine and defend against foreign bodies in the body.
After looking at over 600 thousand health records it was discovered that the sensitivity to penicillin could be linked to chromosome 6. Then afterwards, looking at genetic ancestry records it couldn't be entirely ruled if whether or not this was an inherent variation. Penicillin is not only the most powerful antibiotic, but it has also raised questions in the medical field. For starters, penicillin allergy reactions usually occur during someone's adolescence and typically goes away as they get older and are able to take the drug if prescribed. Or often enough these patients have been misdiagnosed. However, if that's the case why has penicillin been known to cause other symptoms that are indication of illness. Based on a personal experience with a penicillin reaction when I was 10 or 11, how do I know that if prescribed the drug again for an infection will I not have the same reaction as before (in my case it happened to thrush)? And if such sensitivity is common amongst children why does it occur at all? What is it about our immune system and specifically in HLA-B that allows for the inability to detect or aid in combating harmful bacteria or viruses?
Main Source: https://www.sciencenews.org/topic/genetics