Genetically Modifying Humans Via Antibiotics? Something You Need To Know

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lisaA new kind of antibiotic has been developed by researchers at Oregon State University.  The new antibiotics are called PPMOs, which stand for peptide-conjugated phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomers.  They are “a synthetic analog of DNA or RNA that has the ability to silence the expression of specific genes.” (1) The way that PPMO antibiotics will work is to, “specifically target the underlying genes of a bacterium.”  In plain English, PPMOs will genetically modify bacteria.

This may not sound like a horrible thing on initial glance.  Bacteria are generally thought of as evil (soap commercials have conditioned us all), something to fight because some bacteria can make people sick and even kill them if their body is overwhelmed by “bad” bacteria.  However, bacteria and the other single-celled organisms that make up the human microbiome are intimate parts of each human being.  Per the Human Microbiome Project:

The healthy adult body hosts ten times as many microbial cells as human cells, including bacteria, archaea, viruses, and eukaryotic microbes resident on nearly every body surface. The metagenome carried collectively by these microbial communities dwarfs the human genome in size, and their influences on normal development, diet and obesity, immunity, and disease are under active research. (2)

The average 200 pound human body contains 6 pounds of microbiome organisms, including several billion bacteria (3).  These bacteria act symbiotically with us, helping to digest food, extract vitamins and other nutrients from food, regulate the immune system and even  contribute to each individual’s personality.  Per an article published in Molecular Psychology, “CNS neurotransmission can be profoundly disturbed by the absence of a normal gut microbiota.” (4)  Multiple neurochemicals are produced by gut bacteria, including 95% of the serotonin in each human body (5).  Studies of mice have shown that behavioral changes can be triggered by changes in the gut bacteria and it has been observed that people with Crohn’s Disease and other GI disorders often suffer from anxiety and depression.  The health of each person’s microbiome is intimately connected to both their physical and the mental health.

The bacteria that compose our microbiome work so synergistically with our human cells that the difference between “us” and “the bacteria” is difficult to decipher.  Where do “we” begin and “they” end?  If all of the bacteria in a person’s microbiome were killed off, that person would die.  Bacteria are an intimate and important part of “us.”  In genetically modifying “them,” are we genetically modifying “us?”  How could genetically modified bacteria affect the balance of the human microbiome?  How could they affect the bodily systems that the microbiome controls?  How could a GM bacteria adversely affect human health including personality and behavior?

One of many other things to consider is that mitochondria, the energy centers of our cells, are very similar in structure and design to bacteria. (6)  Mitochondrial DNA is also much more vulnerable to environmental toxins than the rest of the human DNA. (7)

Could PPMOs (or other drugs that genetically modify bacteria) modify human mitochondria?  If so, what are the consequences of having genetically modified mitochondria?  One consequence is that humans truly would be genetically modified.  Perhaps that should be taken into consideration before developing drugs that genetically modify bacteria.

There are thousands of medical and ethical questions that should be asked about the development of drugs that genetically modify bacteria.  Sadly, I suspect that many people will look the other way, assuming that PPMOs are just another antibiotic that are as innocuous as penicillin, rather than asking the really difficult questions that should be asked before our mitochondrial DNA is permanently and irreversibly altered.  I suspect that the questions about whether or not antibiotics that alter the human microbiome should be created or not will not be asked though, because human mitochondrial DNA has been being altered and damaged by a certain class of antibiotics, fluoroquinolones, for years without anyone saying a peep.

Genetic Modification via Antibiotics is Already Occurring

Fluoroquinolone antibiotics, more popularly known as Cipro (Ciprofloxacin), Levaquin (Levofloxacin), Avelox (Moxifloxacin), Floxin (Ofloxacin) and a few other less commonly used ones, are topoisomerase interrupters.  They unravel bacterial DNA and lead to apoptosis, programmed cell death.  This video explains how they work:

The chemical backbone of fluroquinolone antibiotics, nalidixic acid, was developed in 1962 by George Lesher. (8)  They became popular starting in the 1980s when pharmaceutical companies pressured the FDA to accept them as a “first line of defense” antibiotic despite the fact that they had  shown to be toxic to mammalian cells.  They increased in popularity after the 2001 anthrax scare.  They are used to treat urinary tract infections, sinus infections, bronchial infections, strep throat, etc. despite the fact that the side effects include psychosis (9) and destruction of every tendon in the body. A side-effect that is lightly referred to as “tendinitis” on the warning label.  (A more complete list of effects of fluoroquinolones can be found on  The person who wrote that list of things that happened to him as a result of taking Cipro was a happy, healthy, employed 31 year old when he took Cipro.  He is now disabled.)

Multiple studies have shown that quinolones/fluoroquinolones adduct to bacterial DNA. (10)(11) This means that they attach to and change DNA, that the DNA has altered molecules hooked onto it and that all duplicate versions of the cells have been altered.  An example of another chemical that adducts to DNA is Agent Orange.

Some DNA tests performed on people who have experienced severe adverse reactions to fluoroquinolone antibiotics have shown that the quinolone/fluoroquinolone molecules have adducted to their human DNA, attaching to and changing their DNA into perpetuity.  (As cells replicate, the altered DNA replicates too.)  A DNA Adduct Mass Spectrogram Analysis showed that the quinolone/fluoroquinolone molecules had attached to every cell in the subjects’ bodies, not just the bacteria that make up their microbiome; the drug adducted to their DNA, to THEM.

They, along with thousands of other people who have had an adverse reaction to a fluoroquinolone, have been genetically modified by an antibiotic.

A large portion of those who have been genetically modified by a fluoroquinolone antibiotic have been subjected to irreversible damage to their DNA for no sensible reason at all.  Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are given out to treat benign infections like sinus and urinary tract infections, that can be treated with other, safer antibiotics.  A 2011 study (12) found that 39% of patients given fluoroquinolone antibiotics were given them unnecessarily (and the necessity of them was determined without it being taken into consideration that DNA damage can be done by these drugs as this fact is not acknowledged, despite the peer reviewed studies noted above.)

26.9 million prescriptions for fluoroquinolone antibiotics were dispensed in America in 2011 alone (13).  Similarly massive numbers of prescriptions of these drugs have been dispensed each year since Bayer patented Cipro in 1983.  Humanity has not stopped existing since these DNA modifying drugs were introduced to the market, but before you find that to be reassuring, the following should be noted.

  1. An article in the September, 2013 issue of Nature entitled “Topoisomerases facilitate transcription of long genes linked to autism” (14) noted that, “Our data suggest that chemicals or genetic mutations that impair topoisomerases, and possibly other components of the transcription elongation machinery that interface with topoisomerases, have the potential to profoundly affect the expression of long ASD candidate genes.”  Fluoroquinolone antibiotics impair topoisomerases.  A post about this is on Collective Evolution –
  2. Anthraquinone was found in the subject who underwent The DNA testing.  Anthraquinone causes an inflammatory process within the body and causes pain, burning, and hurting sensations, a condition that is often confused with fibromyalgia. (15)
  3. Fluoroquinolone antibiotics have been shown to damage mitochondria (16)(17)(18) and “Damage to mitochondria is now understood to play a role in the pathogenesis of a wide range of seemingly unrelated disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, migraine headaches, strokes, neuropathic pain, Parkinson’s disease, ataxia, transient ischemic attack, cardiomyopathy, coronary artery disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetes, hepatitis C, and primary biliary cirrhosis.” (19)

So, if you’re wondering what happens when humans are genetically modified, the experiment is being conducted as you read this post.  Since fluoroquinolone antibiotics have been popularized, rates of autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, migraine headaches, strokes, neuropathic pain, Parkinson’s disease, ataxia, transient ischemic attack, cardiomyopathy, coronary artery disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetes, hepatitis C, and primary biliary cirrhosis have risen substantially.

Perhaps the question of the intelligence of altering human DNA with antibiotics can be questioned before PPMOs are introduced to the market, as opposed to 30+ years afterward, as is the case with fluoroquinolone antibiotics.  It would show wisdom and desire for sustainability as a species.  Unfortunately, neither wisdom nor sustainability are valued at the moment and I suspect that the travesty of people being genetically altered by fluoroquinolones will continue and that the travesty of people being altered by PPMOs will begin.

Post Script:

  1. If enough people gathered together, got their DNA tested, got those test results interpreted by a Toxicologist, and appropriate research was published on the results, this atrocity could stop.  Please note that both Bayer (producer of Cipro and Avelox) and Johnson and Johnson (producer of Levaquin), and even the generic producers of these drugs, have very deep pockets.
  2. The author’s blog is


  1. Drug Discovery and Development, “Beyond Antibiotics: New Approach to Bacterial Infections” published online on 10/16/13 –
  2. PLOS Collections, “Table of Contents: The Human Microbiome Project Collection”
  3. Neergaard, Lauran, “Human Microbiome Project: 10,000 Species Of Microbes In And On Our Bodies,” Huffpost Healthy Living, 06/13/2012
  4. Mol Psychiatry. 2013 Jun;18(6):666-73. doi: 10.1038/mp.2012.77. Epub 2012 Jun 12. The microbiome-gut-brain axis during early life regulates the hippocampal serotonergic system in a sex-dependent manner. Clarke G, Grenham S, Scully P, Fitzgerald P, Moloney RD, Shanahan F, Dinan TG, Cryan JF.
  5. Carpenter, Siri.  “That Gut Feeling: With a sophisticated neural network transmitting messages from trillions of bacteria, the brain in your gut exerts a powerful influence over the one in your head, new research suggests.”  Monitor on Psychology.  American Psychological Association.  September 2012, Vol 43, No. 8 Print version: page 50
  7. John Neustadt and Steve R. Pieczenik.  “Medication-induced mitochondrial damage and disease.”  Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 2008,52, 780 – 788
  9. Nagaraja Moorthy, N. Raghavendra, and P. N. Venkatarathnamma.  “Levofloxacin-induced acute psychosis.”  Indian J Psychiatry. 2008 Jan-Mar; 50(1): 57–58.
  10.  Arkady B. Khodursky and Nicholas R. Cozzarelli.  “The Mechanism of Inhibition of Topoisomerase IV by Quinolone Antibacterials”  The Journal of Biological Chemistry.  August 5, 1998.
  11. G. PALLJ*, S. VALISENA*, G. CIARROCCHI, B. GATTO, AND M. PALUMBO.  “Quinolone binding to DNA is mediated by magnesium ions.”  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA Vol. 89, pp. 9671-9675, October 1992 Biochemistry.
  12. Nicole L Werner, Michelle T Hecker, Ajay K Sethi and Curtis J Donskey.  “Unnecessary use of fluoroquinolone antibiotics in hospitalized patients.” BMC Infectious Diseases.  Volume 11.
  13.  “FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA requires label changes to warn of risk for possibly permanent nerve damage from antibacterial fluoroquinolone drugs taken by mouth or by injection” 08/15/2013
  14. Ian F. King, Chandri N. Yandava, Angela M. Mabb,  Jack S. Hsiao, Hsien-Sung Huang, Brandon L. Pearson, J. Mauro Calabrese, Joshua Starmer, Joel S. Parker, Terry Magnuson,           Stormy J. Chamberlain, Benjamin D. Philpot & Mark J. Zylka.  “Topoisomerases facilitate transcription of long genes linked to autism.”  Nature 501, 58–62 (05 September 2013) doi:10.1038/nature12504 Received 17 January 2013 Accepted 24 July 2013 Published online 28 August 2013
  16. “Dodging Antibiotic Side Effects.”  July 3, 2013.
  17. “Pinpointing How Antibiotics Work” April 19, 2012.  MIT Media Relations.
  18. J W Lawrence, D C Claire, V Weissig and T C Rowe.  “Delayed cytotoxicity and cleavage of mitochondrial DNA in ciprofloxacin-treated mammalian cells.”  Molecular Pharmacology November 1996 vol. 50 no. 5 1178-1188
  19. John Neustadt and Steve R. Pieczenik.  “Medication-induced mitochondrial damage and disease.”  Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 2008,52, 780 – 788

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More From 'Awareness'

CE provides a space for free thinkers to explore and discuss new, alternative information and ideas. The goal? Question everything, think differently, spread love and live a joy filled life.

  1. John

    Each of the PPMOs you write about are designed to target specific gene sequences in the offensive bacteria. In other words, the PPMO does not differentiate between bacteria or human cells but it DOES differentiate between the genes. You left out this important fact about designing PPMOs.

    Your question “Could PPMOs (or other drugs that genetically modify bacteria) modify human mitochondria?” is a loaded question. In theory, they could be designed to modify human genes but they just aren’t made to. (Genes are genes, human, bacteria, turtles, we’re all carbon-based organisms.) They are made to target specific sequences that exist only in the target organism.

    From your article: “An article in the September, 2013 issue of Nature …noted that, ‘Our data suggest that chemicals or genetic mutations … have the potential to profoundly affect the expression of …genes.’” Or, more simply, “We want to study this more.” The data do not prove anything but you treat it as if it does. Be careful of misleading the public. (Btw, if you want to gang up on me, Arjun and Joe do the same misinterpretation of study conclusions. “Suggest” is a very specific word in technical journals, unlike our layman definition.)

    • Thanks for reading, John! You make some good points. This post is a plea for more questions to be asked, for people to consider that pharmaceuticals have the power to alter their genes, that not all antibiotics are as benign as penicillin. I am hoping that some people with a lot more power and expertise than I have look at the potential ramifications of PPMOs before they are tested on humans. Until the entire human genome is fully mapped out, and the genome of the microbiome is mapped out, I don’t think that there is enough information to say that PPMOs will only target the specific gene sequence of the offensive bacteria. Even when the entire genome is completely mapped out, there are still some huge questions that will need to be asked. Could there be mutations that some people have that make them susceptible to being modified by the PPMOs? If someone has an adverse reaction to the PPMO, what are the ramifications? How does one get the drug out of a person whose body is going hay-wire as a result a PPMO? How could a PPMO alter the balance of bacteria in our microbiome? Etc. etc.

      Hundreds of studies have been done that show that fluoroquinolone antibiotics (Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox) are extremely toxic to mammalian cells. Studies have also shown that they damage mitochondria. Yet they are still given out like candy for infections that can be taken care of with more benign antibiotics and doctors claim that there isn’t enough science to restrict their use. The scientific studies are out there, they just aren’t being paid attention to. That’s where posts like this one come in. Perhaps if I scream, people will ask questions, they will study more and they will stop hurting people. I can only hope – and scream. Thanks again for reading.

      • Ginny

        Lisa and John, as a 5 year victim of Fluoroquinolone Toxicity, I for one have had DNA/Gene testing, and I know for sure that Levaquin has done irreversible damage to both my mito and DNA/gene makeup. I was a healthy vibrant person before my poisoning….now my DNA damage and gene mutations rule every step I take. I am disabled and very fragilely living my life out, in brutal 24/7 pain, which is not curable or treatable. Until the world’s medical society owns up to this damage, victims will only increase, it is far more prevalent, John then apparently you are aware of.

        • PranicChi

          Ginny please try Chaga Mushroom.
          It has been used for thousands of years throughout the world for longevity and vibrant health.
          It has the ability to cure cancer & many more great things including the repair of DNA.

          I advise everyone to make this a part of their diet; daily or weekly. :)

        • Becky

          Ginny, Just a quick thought, have you ever considered trying Essential oils for your pain. Check out either doTerra or Young Living, ( I am not a rep of either….I just like using them.).

        • Ginny, wishing you well. Not sure if you’ve considered cannabis oil treatments using instructions from Rick Simpson at Even if it doesn’t offer a total curative effect, your symptoms should be diminished. At least this is my hope. Please read up and understand his information. All the best…

  2. NO, John, Arjun and Joe, are very good at “misrepresenting” that which they present here on Collective Evolution. Many, many, many of their articles have titles that “mislead” the reader.

    However, in their defense, “they” DO make people aware of “some things” they would otherwise never read about. AND THAT, is a “good thing!”…no?

    • People who intentionally mislead typically do so in order to protect their financial interests. I have no financial interest in anything that I post about on CE or anywhere else. I don’t know what Joe or Arjun’s financial situations are, but I’m assuming that they’re not getting kick-backs from producers of purple potatoes or anyone else. I am telling the truth to the best of my ability. I am putting the pieces together and sharing what I know as well as I can. I assume that the same is true for Arjun, Joe and everyone else who contributes to CE. You should make the same assumption.

      • Lisa! I apologized to Joe and Arjun as the word “misleading” is NOT the one I intended to use…I meant “sensationalism!” I was in a hurry and simply couldn’t remember the darn word!

        “forgive me?”

    • - Collective Evolution

      I definitely do not feel that to be the case, none of our articles mislead the reader nor do they intent to. I’d ask you to be specific, but then you would go on to demonstrate how we do mislead readers with the title and I would go on to show you how we don’t. It would go back and forth so maybe that’s not a good idea lol

      • Kat

        Just the fact that it could be demonstrated that your titles are misleading, and you admit it could be done, shows that you already know that they are. Think it through before you write it.

        • - Collective Evolution

          admit what could be done, which titles specifically? If you are referring to this article, I didn’t write it, and antibiotics do alter DNA. That’s proven. :)

      • expressyourselve (@expressurselve)

        right on

      • “My BAD, Arjun!” I meant to use the “sensationalism” rather than “mislead!” BUT, I could NOT remember the darn word AND, I had just said it to myself! So, I “irresponsibly” used “mislead!” Please accept my apologies!
        In my defense, my 91 y.o. MOM! needed help and interrupted my “train of thought!”

        I “still” like your articles!

        Take Care and God Bless!!!

  3. PPMOs are based on Morpholino oligos. They bind to RNA and stick there without cleaving the RNA (older antisense types did cleave the RNA). Their activity in bacteria is based on this RNA interaction. Many compounds do directly alter nucleic acids, but Morpholino oligos are more like masking tape for RNA sequences.

  4. Kat

    Oh come on, your site is getting to be better at twisting words then the mainstream media. Hitting on just a few of the misnomers here, when did the average person start weighing 200 pounds? It gets a little more serious after that one, like the fact that topoisomerase interrupters and Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are the SAME THING. Floxin is a drug that’s not even on the market anymore. ALL antibiotics kill gut bacteria, that’s their job, kill bacteria. And all of the drugs you named have a “black box” warning which is not “light”, it’s the harshest warning there is. Knock this crap off already. You’re turning into the Fox News of “enlightenment”.

    • Floxed

      Yes all antibiotics kill gut bacteria. fluoroquinolones alter DNA. BTW average weight of American men is 196. Average weight of American women is 156. Check your facts before you start your critique.

      • Kat

        Really? You’re going to pick that as a defense? There’s so much bologna in that article Oscar Mayer would be proud and you pick the average weight issue?! Wow. And fyi, if you average your stated average weights, it’s still not 200 pounds. But let’s stay distracted by that and not the real issue. Just like…Fox News!

  5. Ana

    Well, this comment is a year later than the original comments, but I feel the need to correct what is an obvious misunderstanding on Kat’s part. The author is not stating that the average person weighs 200 pounds. The author is stating that a 200 pound person will average 6 pounds of microbiome organisms, including several billion bacteria. The true meaning of the author’s statement is further backed up by reading the (3) source which states, “That means a 200-pound person could harbor as much as 6 pounds of bacteria.”

    The intent of this article is to warn people that fluroquinolone antibiotics alter DNA and do damage, not just simply kill bacteria.

    If you think it’s a bunch of bologna, then go ahead and take them should a doctor prescribe them. It’s your right. But if and when irreversible damage is done, don’t say you weren’t warned.

  6. Eric Lippos

    So what the author is saying is, antibiotics are altering our genome, so let’s not use them?

    News flash: viruses pull the same trick, and some of them even manage to do it in ways which allow them to be inherited.

    Second news flash: it’s becoming increasingly apparent that anything which alters the functioning of a living organism’s body, for good or ill, does so by either altering the genes outright or switching them on or off. Even healthy foods, like all-natural citrus fruits, do this.

    Antibiotics have saved millions of lives, and the greatest danger from them isn’t that they will turn us all into hideous freaks but that their misuse (such as prescribing antibiotics to treat vital infections, against which they don’t work–they only kill bacteria–in order to make patients feel the doctor has “done something” and not complain) is allowing disease organisms to evolve resistance to them, leaving us increasingly hard-pressed for effective medications.


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