Saturday, September 18, 2010

NDM-1 (New Antibiotic Resistance Gene) is a serious global public health threat

The term "superbug" has been used before to describe a variety of antibiotic-resistant organisms. Advances in drug development technology have led to effective antibiotics to combat MRSA and VRE. I think we all knew that it wouldn't be long before we started seeing bacteria that are resistant to the latest antibiotics.

New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM-1) is a new antibiotic resistance gene that was first identified in December 2009 in New Delhi. A hospitalized patient had Klebsiella pneumoniae. NDM-1 was later detected in bacteria in India, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. Now, we face a global threat because the NDM-1 gene can spread from one strain of bacteria to another (via plasmids, which will allow the gene to be readily transferred between different strains of bacteria by horizontal gene transfer).

What does this mean? What are the public health implications of NDM-1? Let's hope that pharmaceutical companies will develop novel antibiotics that can effectively target these bacteria.

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