Wednesday March 20, 2019

Antibiotic Resistance Spreads From Animals To Humans At Faster Pace

Even Colistin is losing its potency against so-called "superbugs".

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Chinese researchers identify potential new antibiotic. Pixabay

Scientists have expressed shock at the speed at which resistance to powerful antibiotics spreads from animals to humans, as new research has shown how genetic mutations in pathogens likely spread from a pig farm in China to affect human and animal species across the world in the space of just a few years.

The antibiotic Colistin is known as a medicine of “last resort,” used to save people’s lives when all other drugs have failed. Lead researcher Professor Francois Balloux, director of the Genetics Institute at University College London says it has become an important last line of defense as other antibiotics have become less effective.

“It was used a bit in the clinic. And then there were some worries about toxicity and side-effects. And it was mostly used in agriculture then, in pigs and a bit in chickens. But recently, as we are running out of drugs, people actually have become a bit more interested in using it, and it has been used quite extensively recently over the last five to 10 years in the clinic,” says Balloux.

Now even Colistin is losing its potency against so-called “superbugs”.

Fast mutation

Deadly pathogens like E. Coli or salmonella can mutate and develop resistance to antibiotics. Balloux’s research identifies the speed at which the mutant gene that gives resistance to Colistin emerged in the mid-2000s.

“It was a single mergence, it happened only once. And it jumped very, very likely from pigs, probably in China, and it spread extremely rapidly throughout the world. And it also spread in all sorts of different species, and affects humans. So now we find it in in many of the most important pathogens we face in hospitals. And it is absolutely everywhere,” Balloux told VOA.

The resistance has even been found in pathogens in the seawater on Brazilian beaches. Balloux notes his study focused on just one resistant gene, but many pathogens are developing other forms of resistance.

 

Britain’s chief medical officer warned recently that anti-microbial resistance could lead to the “end of modern medicine.”

“Think about common operations, caesarean sections, replacement hips. Those would become much more risky if we did not have effective antibiotics. Superbugs kill and they’re on the rise,” Professor Sally Davies told delegates at an October conference on anti-microbial resistance in Germany.

Scientists are working on “boosting” existing drugs like Colistin to give them added power against resistant pathogens.

Also Read: Antibiotics in puget sound mussels

Longer-term, researchers say more investment is needed in developing new drugs, along with a rethink of the way antibiotics are used in agriculture and in the clinic. (VOA)

Next Story

Gene Triggering Antibiotic Reaction Risk Identified, Says Study

"This observation also represents significant progress as we zero in on the mechanisms of these life-threatening immune-mediated drug reactions,"

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The study modified the levels of the protein encoded by a single gene known as GPR39.  Pixabay

Researchers have identified a gene that increases the risk of a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction to the commonly prescribed antibiotic vancomycin.

Vancomycin, used to treat serious and life-threatening bacterial infections, has been known to be a common antibiotic trigger for a severe reaction known as DRESS — Drug Rash with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms.

The genetic risk factors predisposing specific patients were not known yet.

The new study, led by researchers from the Vanderbilt University in the US, showed that vancomycin triggers DRESS only in people carrying specific variations in human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes.

DRESS has been characterised by fever, widespread skin rash and internal organ damage.

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Gene triggering antibiotic reaction risk identified. Pixabay

Routine testing for HLA gene could improve patient safety and reduce unnecessary avoidance of other antibiotics, said the study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Since many patients who develop DRESS are often exposed to multiple antibiotics and other drugs simultaneously, the team used a specific diagnostic test developed in their laboratories called gamma-interferon ELISpot.

ELISpot exposed patients’ white blood cells to vancomycin and other concurrently administered antibiotics.This test enabled them to determine which drug was most likely causing DRESS.

Also Read- A Nap During The Day Can Lower High BP: Study

“This test will be important in the clinical care of patients starting vancomycin and will prevent mortality and short and long-term complications,” said Elizabeth Phillips, researcher at the varsity.

“This observation also represents significant progress as we zero in on the mechanisms of these life-threatening immune-mediated drug reactions,” she said. (IANS)