Pinpointing mutations that cause bacterial antibiotic resistance

Pinpointing mutations that cause bacterial antibiotic resistance

Originally published on PHY.ORG

Researchers in Japan have developed a new way of testing bacterial resistance to antibiotics, and found three previously unknown resistance mutations in the process. The fact that they detected both known and unknown mutations suggests their approach will be useful for monitoring resistance to antibiotics.

Antibiotic resistance is a serious problem: more and more pathogenic microorganisms are developing immunity to widely-used antibiotic drugs, rendering them useless. Tremendous effort is being made to identify the mechanisms and mutations that lead to bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Understanding this can help ensure we can effectively treat bacterial infections ranging from pneumonia and infected wounds, to less serious, but contagious conditions such as impetigo and chlamydia.

Researchers from Hokkaido University and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Japan developed an approach to systematically hunt for resistant ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes. rRNA is the essential/indispensable part of the cell that creates proteins. It is one of the main targets of antibiotics, but mutations to rRNA is now a well-known route to resistance.

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