Monitor resistance gene to help combat antimicrobial resistance: scientists

Scientists suggest that monitoring genes responsible for antimicrobial resistance will help track the problem

By Mouna Nagaraju
Published: Wednesday 30 November 2016

Resistance can be developed in all kinds of microbes in the presence of antimicrobial medication (Credit: iStock)

Scientists from University of Technology, Sydney and La Trobe University in Australia suggest that monitoring the “resistance gene” rather than resistant bacteria will help monitoring antimicrobial resistance more precisely. Resistant genes confer resistance to antibiotics.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR)—the ability of a microbe to resist the effects of medication previously used to treat them—has been recognised as a threat to public health globally. Policymakers and scientists have suggested developing new antimicrobials and diagnostics to treat antibiotic resistant pathogens.

The study published in the journal Open Biology earlier this month, says that resistance can be developed in all kinds of microbes in the presence of antimicrobial medication, then passed on to other bacteria like pathogens, which affect humans directly. AMR genes are widespread not only in pathogens but in the larger microbial community as well, although at lower frequencies.

The authors suggest a programme for monitoring resistance genes in the areas where antimicrobials are commonly used. They argue that environment is a reservoir of resistant genes, yet, is not monitored for antimicrobial resistant bacteria or genes. The authors add that by checking for the frequency of resistance genes, AMR can be tracked and help guide decision-making on the local and global use of antimicrobials.

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