It turns out that genetic resistance is not the only way that bacteria are able to survive antibiotics, according to a new study by The Journal of Medical Microbiology. So called, "Persister Cells" are created in very low numbers, but have an exceptional ability to survive in the presence of all common antibiotics, without having developed a genetic resistance.
When small quantities of these persistent cells remains after antibiotic treatment has taken care of most bacteria, the infection still has a chance of coming back. Studies have even shown that the amount of persister cells shows a relationship to the presence of antibiotics. n one study, the amount of persister cells created was lower when the bacteria showed a resistance to the present antibiotics.
This may suggest that the production of persistent cells is another method of survival for bacteria, acting as a Noahs's Arc for the infection to survive even when most of the bacteria is destroyed by antibiotics. Scientist hope to develop a new form of infection treatment which combines antibiotics with other drugs to combat regular, and persistent bacteria all at once.
Unfortunately, not enough research has been done and the mechanism for bacterial persistence is still unknown. If researchers are able to break the secret of persistence and develop a treatment to counter it, it could mean a great increase in the frequency with which active infections are completely eradicated.