Bacteria Resistant to All Popular Antibiotics Reach Great Britain
On December 21, British biologists announced the discovery of bacteria containing the mcr-1 gene in various bacterial samples taken on the island from both humans and livestock. This gene, which appears in microorganisms thanks to the recently discovered MCR-1 gene transfer mechanism , gives them the ability to resist colistin, an antibiotic commonly used as a “last resort”.
The first antibiotic, belonging to the penicillin class, was discovered in 1928, and was widely used during the Second World War. Since then, a wide variety of antibiotics has been discovered., divided by specialists into groups, subgroups and classes. However, the last class of antibiotics was discovered in 1987 - but no one stopped the evolution of microorganisms.
In the framework of natural selection, after the emergence of a new class of antibiotics, bacteria will inevitably appear that are resistant to this class. In this regard, some researchers warn of the danger of the " apocalypse of antibiotics " - the onset of a moment when all known antibiotics are powerless against new strains of bacteria. According to the researchers, after that, humanity will return to that not very pleasant past, in which you can die from a simple cut of a finger.
In particular, the concept of a “hospital strain” is known when various forms of Staphylococcus aureussurvive in hospitals, where antibiotics are heavily used, and mutate into drug-resistant forms.
The reasons for the slowdown of research in the field of antibiotics are called very different . For example, pharmaceutical companies are much more profitable to deal with drugs for diabetes or high blood pressure, because such drugs are very quickly and widely enter the market. Antibiotics, however, remain the last resort.
In addition, some talk about the inhibition of medical research, occurring for reasons of copyright protection. Many blame the difficulties of such studies for too strong restrictions imposed by regulators in these areas. Scientists themselves are currently overly passionate about genetic research, nanoengineering and synthetic biology, as a result of which the issue of antibiotic research has fallen into the background.
The currently approved antibiotic of the latest generation is colistin . It was first discovered by Japanese scientists back in 1949, and now they turn to it in cases where other antibiotics did not help.
In November 2015, the mechanism of colistin resistance gene transfer, MCR-1, was first discovered in China.. Most likely, due to the excessive enthusiasm for this antibiotic on livestock farms, a gene appeared in bacteria that gives resistance to colistin. Such bacteria were found in every fifth animal and in 15% of the tested fresh meat. Moreover, several species of bacteria containing the mcr-1 gene have already been discovered: E. coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
And in December, bacteria with a similar mechanism were found in the Netherlands, Laos, Malaysia, Portugal and Denmark. Two days ago, bacteria were also reported from Britain.
“We now have all the components needed for the post-antibiotic era,” warns British professor Timothy Walsh of Cardiff University, who participated in the study of bacteria. - If MCR-1 turns into a global phenomenon, or rather, not if, but when, then this gene will cooperate with other genes that confer resistance to other types of antibiotics, which is inevitable, this will mean the emergence of a new world without antibiotics. After that, if the patient is, say, infected with E. coli, you cannot do anything for him. ”
The mechanism of transmission of genes that confer resistance to antibiotics
In principle, biologists have already come across resistance mechanisms to colistin - but this time, the transfer of mutated genes is as simple as ever. Professor Mark Wilcox states that the transfer rate of these genes is “ridiculously” high. Wilcox says that while no single major event has been recorded that marks the end of the era of antibiotics, “we are definitely losing the battle.”
Recently, scientists announced the discovery of a new type of antibiotic - teixobactin . But his research has not yet been completed, scientists have not yet even figured out the mechanism of its action and have not attributed it to any particular class. Therefore, it is not yet possible to use it in humans and even livestock.