Scientists detect bacteria defence

A mechanism by which bacteria cells became resistant to antibiotics has been identified for the first time by scientists.

It is hoped the detection of the previously unobserved mutation in a strain of salmonella could lead to the development of smarter therapies and drugs.

The problem of antibiotic resistance has been described as a “ticking time-bomb” by the British government’s chief medical officer. University of Birmingham researchers found a strain of salmonella contracted by a patient was able to develop resistance to the commonly used antibiotic drug ciprofloxacin.

Over 20 weeks, they used genome sequencing to reveal 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 their vacuum cleaners by pushing antibiotics from inside cells to the outside where they are unable to have any effect.

The research team hope insights such as those revealed in the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, could help lead to treatments that are designed to avoid the impact of the mutation they identified.


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