Antibiotic-Resistant Genes (ARGs) – Worldwide spread of blaNDM-1 and other MDR genes is a growing concern because they often target “last resort” classes of antibiotics, including Carbapenems.
ARGs that were first detected in urban India have been found 8,000 miles away in one of the last ‘pristine’ places on earth, a new study by Newcastle University’s Professor David Graham has shown.
Carried in the gut of animals and people, ARGs were found in Arctic soils that were likely spread in the faecal matter of birds, other wildlife and human visitors to the area.
“Polar regions are among the last presumed pristine ecosystems on Earth, providing a platform for characterizing pre-antibiotic era background resistance against which we could understand rates of progression of AR ‘pollution’,” says Professor Graham, an environmental engineer at Newcastle University who has spent 15 years studying the environmental transmission of antibiotic resistance around the world.
“But less than three years after the first detection of the blaNDM-1 gene in the surface waters of urban India we are finding them thousands of miles away in an area where there has been minimal human impact.”
“What humans have done through excess use of antibiotics on global scales is accelerate the rate of evolution, creating a new world of resistant strains that never existed before,” explains Graham.
“Through the overuse of antibiotics, faecal releases and contamination of drinking water, we have consequentially speeded-up the rate at which superbugs might evolve.
“For example, when a new drug is developed, natural bacteria can rapidly adapt and can become resistant; therefore very few new drugs are in the pipeline because it simply isn’t cost-effective to make them.”
Increasing antibiotic resistance is a global health crisis. An example is NDM-1, which is a protein that can confer resistance in a range of bacteria. NDM-1 was first identified in New Delhi and coded by the resistant gene blaNDM-1.
“The only way we are going to win this fight is to understand all pathways that lead to antibiotic resistance. Clearly, improved antibiotic stewardship in medicine and agriculture is crucial, but understanding how resistance transmission occurs through water and soils is also critical. We contend that improved waste management and water quality on a global scale is a key step.”
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