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Bacteria mutation explains why they become drug resistant

The danger of antibiotics becoming ineffective shortly may be averted after a breakthrough identified the mechanism causing bacteria cells to become resistant to drugs.

Scientists noticed a mutation in a strain of Salmonella, and they hope this mutation will lead to the development of better, more effective therapies and drugs.

Antibiotics are on the point of developing resistance to drugs, a situation described as a “ticking time-bomb” by Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer.

Last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that a “post-antibiotic” era was rapidly approaching in which common infections could no longer be tackled with tried and trusted drugs, turning the clock back to a time when even a slight cut or graze might prove fatal.

Researchers applied genome sequencing for more than 20 weeks to find a mutation in the bacterial cells that allowed them to become resistant to the effects of some antibiotics.

The mutation altered the bacteria’s efflux pumps, which act as cleaners by pushing antibiotics from inside cells to the outside, where they are unable to have any effect.

The researchers found that the mutation made it more efficient at pumping some antibiotics, including ciprofloxacin, out of the bacterial cells.

“We cannot know for sure when this mutation happened within this strain,” said Dr. Jessica Blair, from the University of Birmingham. “What we do know is that it developed soon after this patient was given ciprofloxacin to treat the infection. It’s further evidence that, when it comes to the issue of antibiotic resistance, we are coming up against a very capable and complex adversary.”

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Bacteria mutation explains why they become drug resistant

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