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Antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Antibiotic resistance is poised to spread rapidly around the globe among bacteria frequently implicated in respiratory and urinary infections, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

A STUDY FROM RESEARCHERS AT WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE IN ST. LOUIS, BARNES-JEWISH HOSPITAL AND THE NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCES AND TECHNOLOGY IN PAKISTAN HAS FOUND EVIDENCE THAT TWO GENES FOR RESISTING POWERFUL ANTIBIOTICS CAN SPREAD EASILY AMONG COMMON TYPES OF BACTERIA AND COULD SOON RENDER THE DRUGS ALMOST USELESS IN SOME PATIENTS WITH INFECTIONS. JIM DRYDEN HAS MORE…

THE RESEARCHERS FOCUSED ON A SPECIFIC GROUP OF ANTIBIOTIC-RESISTANT BUGS THAT CAUSE INFECTIONS, ACCORDING TO WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY RESEARCHER GAUTAM DANTAS.

(act) :26 o/c hospital-acquired infections

And these are the carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae.

So carbapenems are one of these late-generation antibiotics,

and the reason they’re important is they’re really, really

potent drugs, unless you happen to get resistant to them.

And Enterobacteriaceae include things like E. Coli, Enterobacter.

You find them in the environment. You find them on hospital

surfaces, and they’re the ones that, for that reason, cause

these hospital-acquired infections.

DANTAS SAYS HOSPITAL-ACQUIRED INFECTIONS ARE A BIG PROBLEM RELATED TO THESE BUGS THAT HAVE BECOME RESISTANT BECAUSE PEOPLE IN THE HOSPITAL ARE SICK ALREADY AND NOT AS ABLE TO FIGHT INFECTIONS. WHEN THAT FACT IS PAIRED WITH THE FACT THAT MANY OF THE BUGS ARE NOW RESISTANT TO SOME OF THE MOST POWERFUL ANTIBIOTICS, DANTAS SAYS THERE’S A BIG PROBLEM.

(act) :20 o/c multi-drug resistant

They’ve rapidly started acquiring resistance to all of the

late-generation drugs where now for some of them, if you

happen to be immunocompromised, your risk of dying from

one of these infections, just shot up above 50 percent.

The fact that you get an infection from one of these bugs

at a time when your body can’t fight it off, and now we

don’t have any drugs to fight them because they’re multi-

drug resistant.

DANTAS SAYS THOSE RESISTANT BUGS ARE LINKED TO THE DEATHS OF TWO PATIENTS IN A CALIFORNIA HOSPITAL EARLIER THIS YEAR. AND HE SAYS THE PATHOGENS TEND TO HAVE ONE OF TWO KEY RESISTANCE GENES, KNOWN AS KPC AND NDM1. THE FIRST WAS INITIALLY DETECTED IN NEW YORK IN 2001. THE SECOND HAS BEEN FOUND MAINLY IN THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT. BUT BOTH GENES ALLOW BUGS TO RESIST THE POWERFUL CARBAPENEM ANTIBIOTICS.

(act) :18 o/c other drugs

The second problem is that those genes happen to have

popped into exactly the most transmissible genetic elements,

these plasmids. And KPC and this other gene, NDM1, happen to

have popped into these plasmids, which already have tons

of other antibiotic resistance genes, which can wipe out

all of the other drugs.

PLASMIDS, DANTAS SAYS, ARE KIND OF LIKE SMALL CHROMOSOMES THAT THE BUGS CAN EASILY TRANSMIT TO OTHER BACTERIA TO MAKE THEM RESISTANT TO ANTIBIOTICS, TOO.

(act) :31 o/c between bacteria

Unlike humans, where there’s 23 pairs of chromosomes, a bacteria

has a single chromosome. All of its DNA is in one big,

contiguous piece. Plasmids are simply “accessory” chromosomes,

and they’re much smaller. And the reason they’re important is

unlike the chromosome, one of the things that bacteria do is

they can maintain many, many copies of these accessory plasmids.

There’s more of them around, and most of them — or at least

most of the ones that are problematic from the perspective of

antibiotic resistance — are easy to pass between bacteria.

AND DANTAS SAYS A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE CURRENTLY CARRYING BUGS IN THEIR BODIES THAT CONTAIN THESE RESISTANCE GENES.

(act) :18 o/c be immoncompromised

Most of those people are not immunocompromised, so they’re not

going to be sick, and it’s going to be no problem. But, they

happen to now be potential vectors of a bug that can kill

someone else who happens to be immunocompromised.

THE STUDY APPEARS IN THE JOURNAL EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES. I’M JIM DRYDEN…

RUNS 3:00