An alarming new study suggests that one of our last possible defenses against antibiotic-resistant bacteria may not be enough.
Doctors have been terrified of drug-resistant bacteria for decades, and a recent study suggests that their fears may be completely justified. According to a report from Reuters, researchers believe that a newly discovered gene in a sample of E.Coli bacteria may render our last line of antibiotic defenses against infection useless.
The gene was discovered in E.Coli found on a pig. It existed in the bacteria’s plasmid rather than its genome, which means that the risk of spreading the genetic information contained within is much higher. The gene programs the bacteria to develop a defense to colistin, which many consider to be the final barrier for keeping certain infections at bay.
There are over 2 million antibiotic resistant illnesses each year, leading to 23,000 deaths in the United States annually. These infections don’t just affect people who fall ill; drug-resistant supergerms pose a serious threat for anyone in a facility receiving modern medical treatment; especially those who undergo surgery.
Bacteria are very good at sidestepping our attempts at killing them, but doctors aren’t entirely out of ammunition against superbugs just yet. As they evolve, however, it remains essential that medical research stays a step ahead of drug resistance.
Lack of viable treatments for bacterial infections has lead to countless deaths worldwide, and a serious shortage of effective antibiotics would have devastating consequences. While the tools we have work for now, it is essential to take a proactive approach to dealing with drug resistance.