Thursday, January 21, 2021

Antibiotic resistance may spread even more easily than expected


News Release 21-Jan-2021
Chalmers University of Technology


Pathogenic bacteria in humans are developing resistance to antibiotics much faster than expected. Now, computational research at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, shows that one reason could be significant genetic transfer between bacteria in our ecosystems and to humans. This work has also led to new tools for resistance researchers.

According to the World Health Organisation, antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest threats to global health, food safety and development. It already causes over 33,000 deaths a year in Europe alone.

Completely different species of bacteria can spread resistance genes to each other through plasmids - small DNA molecules where bacteria store some of their genes outside the chromosome. When two bacterial cells come into contact, they can copy plasmids to each other. This is called conjugation, and it is the most important mechanism for spreading antibiotic resistance.


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