Bacteria want to live, badly enough to evolve past our ability to control them with antibiotics. The Guardian's Sarah Boseley reports on a new paper in the Lancet from researchers at Cardiff University that show that gram negative bacteria — such as the ones that cause pneumonia and urinary tract infections — have evolved a new gene that confers high levels of resistance to almost all antibiotics. The researchers, led by Tim Walsh, say that because of international travel and globalization, the gene — which Walsh named New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamas 1 or NDM-1 — has been spread quickly around the world. "In just three years ... it has grown in prevalence from being rarely observed at all to existing in between one percent and three percent in patients with Enterobacteriaceae infections in India," Boseley says. Only two antibiotics currently work against NDM-1 positive bacteria, Boseley adds, but researchers fear even those won't work for long.
The Revenge of the Bacteria
Aug 11, 2010