A newly identified gene that renders bacteria resistant to polymyxin antibiotics—drugs typically employed as the final line of defense against infections—has the potential to be shared in between diverse kinds of bacteria. The locating raises concern that the transferable gene could make its way into infectious bacteria that are already extremely resistant to drugs, thereby making strains of bacteria immune to each and every drug in doctors’ arsenal.
The gene, dubbed mcr-1, exists on a tiny, circular piece of DNA called a plasmid. These genetic components, widespread amongst bacteria, are mobile bacteria can make copies of them and share them with whatever bacteria occurs to be nearby. Though scientists have previously discovered genes for polymyxin resistance, those genes had been embedded in bacterial genomes, thus had been not most likely to effortlessly spread.
In a study, published Wednesday in the Lancet Infectious Illnesses, researchers in China report very first obtaining the mcr-1 containing plasmid in Escherichia coli bacteria isolated from a pig. The plasmid was solely responsible for the bacteria being resistant to colistin, a variety of polymyxin typically utilized in animals in China, but less so in the US and Europe. On additional examination, the researchers also identified mcr-1 containing plasmids in E. coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae isolated from a small quantity of sufferers in hospitals in Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces.