Protecting the Last Resort
Detecting antimicrobial resistance to emergency antibiotic colistin
William Aryitey |
As antimicrobial resistance persists, finding drugs that effectively fight antagonistic microorganisms becomes a more important endeavor. Often referred to as a “last-resort”, the antibiotic colistin combats several multi-drug resistant bacteria – but even it isn’t immune to the creeping cull of resistance. The gene mcr-1, found in species of gut bacteria, gives microbes the ability to resist the effect of colistin, and, worryingly, its protective traits are transmissible both vertically (via genetic fission; common resistance) and horizontally (via plasmids; mobile resistance).
Of great concern is the widespread impact that transmission might have if left unchecked. Bacteria that acquire colistin resistance through horizontal, or so-called mobile, transfer of mcr-1 could become untreatable in humans and might also give rise to resistance in other common strains of human-borne bacteria. It goes without saying that detection of the gene is essential in order to contain its escalation – which is where a team of researchers from Germany and Austria step in.
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