Scientists reveal how bacteria develop antibiotic resistance

Washington: A team of researchers has recently revealed more information about how some bacteria manage to resist antibiotics genetics.

They found 76 new types of resistance genes that make bacteria invulnerable to last-resort antibiotics.

The research suggested that increasing number of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a rapidly growing global problem. Disease-causing bacteria become resistant through mutations of their own DNA or by acquiring resistance genes from other, often harmless, bacteria.

Several of the genes give the bacteria its ability to protect against our most powerful antibiotics.

The findings meant scientists are one-step closer to finding a way of developing drugs to get rid of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Several of these genes can provide bacteria with the ability to degrade carbapenems, our most powerful class of antibiotics used to treat multi-resistant bacteria.

Principal investigator Erik Kristiansson from Chalmers University of Technology said that there are lots of unknown resistance genes. Knowledge about these genes makes it possible to more effectively find and hopefully tackle new forms of multi-resistant bacteria.

“The more we know about how bacteria can defend themselves against antibiotics, the better are our odds for developing effective, new drugs”, said co-author Joakim Larsson from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

They identified the novel genes by analysing DNA sequences from bacteria collected from humans and various environments from all over the world.

“Resistance genes are often very rare and a lot of DNA data needs to be examined before a new gene can be found”, Kristiansson added.

Identifying a resistance gene is also challenging if it has not previously been encountered.

“The novel genes we discovered are only the tip of the iceberg. There are still many unidentified antibiotic resistance genes that could become major global health problems in the future,” Kristiansson noted.

The results are published in the scientific journal Microbiome.