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Supergene leads to Superbugs


bio460 Glover

on 17 December 2010

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Transcript of Supergene leads to Superbugs

NDM-1, the anti-antibiotic Background:
Named for the region for which it was first discovered, NDM-1, New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase, is a very dangerous gene that has evolved in bacteria, which allows them to produce enzymes that can easily digest even the strongest, last resort family of antibiotics, carbapenems, which are used only when all other antibiotics fail. This gene has been picked up by three different species of bacteria: E. coli, K. pneumoniae, and E. cloacae. Each of the three different species has been found with the NDM-1 gene in the US. The NDM-1 gene mutations in these bugs, making them “superbugs”, is easily passed via horizontal gene transfer and presents a possibly dangerous threat in the future if it is not contained. It is also more dangerous because of the fact that the gene can jump from one species to another. The NDM-1 gene is especially dangerous in Klebsiella pneumoniae, where it can lead to almost impossible to treat blood stream infections. The mortality rate for NDM-1 K. pneumoniae is over 50%, and death is normally caused via multiple organ failure. Antibiotics:
In India the misuse of antibiotics has helped to spawn the NDM-1 gene. There is an over prescription of antibiotics and people do not take the antibiotics properly, which allows the bacteria to build up a resistance and evolve mechanisms such as the NDM-1 gene. Bacteria are evolving not only mechanisms such as NDM-1 gene with enzymes to break down antibiotics, but they are also developing molecular pumps for ridding bacteria of the antibiotics. Treatment:
There are very few treatment options for bacteria that have picked up the NDM-1 gene. The bacteria with the gene are normally only susceptible to polymyxins and tigecycline. Spread:
The spread of NDM-1 has been fostered by the development of medical tourism, with people traveling abroad to get major surgical procedures performed more cheaply in places like India and Pakistan. There have been American and British citizens that have contracted the bacterial strains with NDM-1 and traveled back to their respective countries carrying the strain, which has presented itself in a number of European countries, Australia, US and Canada. Sources:

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