An antibiotic-resistant gene originally discovered in bacteria from India was discovered in a remote Arctic environment 8,000 miles away, according to a new study. Researchers believe that the gene found in bacteria in the soil of a Norwegian archipelago has made it in less than three years and highlights the speed with which antibiotic resistance can spread globally.
Antibiotic resistance is a stable and growing world healthcare company. According to a 2014 government report, at least 700,000 people worldwide die of antibiotic-resistant infections each year. As some bacteria have evolved to fend off treatments of the last treatment, this number will increase tenfold over the next few decades, according to the report.
These so-called superbugs have spread to hospitals and other health care facilities through excessive use of antibiotics in medicine and agriculture. But they also appear in the environment via water and food, carried in animals or humans, researchers say. Resistance without human intervention is a constant occurrence when bacteria develop genes that compete with each other ̵
"We try to understand these other factors that come into play," said David Graham, an ecosystem engineer at Newcastle University in the UK and senior researcher of the study. "If we do not know the paths, we can not find the right solutions."
Dr. Graham and his team collected soil samples from eight sites in Svalbard, a Norwegian island chain in the Arctic Ocean. The team chose an isolated area with minimal human impact to neglect the use of antibiotics in humans. The team then analyzed the DNA of bacteria and other organisms in the dirt.
"The Arctic is a perfect microcosm for exploring ways," said Clare McCann, environmental engineer at Newcastle University in the UK and lead author of the study. "There you can exclude any human use very quickly and easily."
The researchers found 131 genes associated with antibiotic resistance. This level of genetic diversity is not uncommon. Graham, though two genes and their large crowd have particularly caught the team's attention. The gene called pncA creates resistance to the tuberculosis drug pyrazinamide. The other gene produces the infamous "superbug" protein NDM-1.
The findings were published Sunday in the journal Environment International.
New Delhi Metallo-beta-Lactamase-1 or NDM-1 makes courage bacteria resistant to the last group of antibiotics known as carbapenems. Since its discovery in 2008, NDM-1 has spread to over 100 countries, including the United States. "This is a gene that causes havoc in hospitals," said Gerry Wright, director of McMaster University's Institute for Infectious Disease Research in Canada. who was not involved in the study.
The gene was found only in high-nutrient soil samples, reflecting the presence of plants and animal feces, meaning that NDM-1 was most likely transported across animals or into the environment. Other mechanisms, said the researchers, rather than there independently developed.
The researchers analyzed samples that had been collected in 2013. NDM-1 Occurred in Indian Groundwater In 2010, the researchers believe the gene has made the 8,000-mile trip to the Arctic in just three years. "This gene has spread so incredibly fast around the world," Dr. Wright. "It's something that does not surprise me, but it should be scary for everyone."
It's not just the speed that concerns scientists. it is also the situation. "What's terrible is that it's a really remote place, a place we do not think is a hotbed of antibiotic resistance," said Martin Blaser, chairman of the Council's Presidential Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. Who was not involved in the research. "These are really bad news."
Researchers can not say exactly how the Superbug gene got into the Arctic, even though it was found inside migratory birds. Although NDM-1 does not harm humans in the soil, the finding is important for those who watch genes spread.
"This moves us on our path to understanding the global distribution of these genes," said Jill Mikucki, assistant professor of microbiology at the University of Tennessee, who was not involved in the research.
The gene pncA appeared to have developed in the Arctic on its own, researchers say, because it was found in all countries, the soil samples regardless of nutrient content. Because the gene is resistant to tuberculosis drugs, researchers believe it has the potential to find a tuberculosis-fighting antibiotic in the soil that may have led to the development of resistance. "If there's a gene out there that resists, an organism can most likely make up for it," Dr. Graham.
The search for undetected antibiotics in the soil is one possibility – so the first antibiotics were discovered. and researchers are working to get undetected antibiotics out of the dirt. However, the evolutionary struggle with antibiotic resistance is one that modern medicine is losing. "We really rely on antibiotics, and this resistance goes in one direction only. It's getting worse, "Dr. Wright said." You can run, but you can not hide. "