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The new discovery shows how antibiotic resistance can arise

The new discovery shows how antibiotic resistance can arise

Bacteria can have temporary resistance to antibiotics. But so-called heterologous resistance can also become a starting point for bacteria to develop stable resistance. A study shows that.

Heterologous resistance is common in many pathogenic bacteria. This can result in antibiotic treatment having no effect.

– Heteroresistance is common among the antibiotics we use frequently, and we have demonstrated it in at least ten different classes of antibiotics. In a patient carrying antibiotic-resistant bacteria who is treated with antibiotics, the mortality rate and risk of having to be transferred to the intensive care unit are higher compared with susceptible bacteria, Dan Anderson, a professor of medical bacteriology at Uppsala University, says in a paper. launch.

Works like a preschooler

This special type of resistance means that most of the bacteria in the strain may be sensitive to the antibiotic, but a very small resistant subset may develop instead during treatment. These resistant bacteria have more gene copies, which also means they grow more slowly.

In a large study, researchers at Uppsala University were able to show how bacteria can create new mutations that partially compensate for slow growth. This can serve as a starting point and facilitate the evolution toward stable antibiotic resistance.

– So, if heterogeneous resistance is a starting point, we should have much better control, says Dan Anderson.

An important result for understanding resistance

Researchers have observed this process in a laboratory setting.

– There is no reason to believe that it will be different between a patient and an animal. Dan Anderson says this is an important discovery for understanding how bacteria resist antibiotics.

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It is believed that this discovery will lead to further studies and increased diagnosis in microbiological laboratories. In health care, it is important to continue to restrict the use of antibiotics to combat resistance.

– It should be used at the right time, not too much, not unnecessarily, and not for viral infections. Dan Anderson says: It is important to use antibiotics in an intelligent and controlled way, so that we have time to develop new ones.

Scientific study:

Bacteria can compensate for the fitness costs of amplified resistance genes via a bypass mechanismNature Communications.