Gut bacteria are a reservoir of drug resistance genes

Gut bacteria are a reservoir of drug resistance genes

Originally published on Business Line

Antibiotic resistance is emerging as a major health challenge. Scientists at the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI) here have found that friendly gut bacteria are a reservoir of drug resistance genes, which when transferred to disease-causing bacteria may make them untreatable.

Antibiotic resistance is posing a threat to the treatment of infectious diseases, organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, and major surgeries. Although a natural process involving changes at the genetic level, antibiotic resistance is accelerated due to indiscriminate use of antibiotics for disease treatment as well as in agriculture and veterinary sectors.

Researchers studied antibiotic resistance traits present in dominant gut bacteria isolated from human fecal samples. Six healthy individuals who had not consumed antibiotics for the past six months were selected for the study. It was found that friendly gut bacteria from these individuals harboured resistance against multiple antimicrobials attributed to the presence of a vast number of antimicrobial genes.

In all cases, the most abundant resistant genes were the ones associated with tetracycline resistance, which is an antibiotic used to cure cholera, malaria and other infections. It was followed by the beta-lactamase genes, which function to negate the effect of medicines used to fight a broad spectrum of bacteria.

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