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Superbugs are on track to kill 10 million people by 2050 if things don’t change

April 18, 2016


SuperbugsIn November of 2015, scientists in southeastern China were combing through bacterial samples collected from hospitals in the Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces when they discovered something that would immediately grab the attention of the entire medical community.

Many of the bacteria collected were carrying a new gene called MCR-1. It’s an innocuous-sounding name for a sequence of DNA code, but it poses a potentially deadly threat to millions around the world. MCR-1 produces an enzyme that makes bacteria invincible to one of the world’s most powerful antibiotics, a drug called colistin, which is only used as a last resort when all other antibiotics have failed.
This rogue gene is making hordes of bacteria immune to colistin–and it is spreading rapidly across the globe. So far, MCR-1 has been detected in at least ten countries, including Canada, China, and the UK.
According to research published last November in The Lancet, the gene’s emergence appears to be at least partially linked to the use of colistin in agriculture. While the use of the drug in hospitals is now extremely restricted, an almost mind-boggling 12,000 metric tons(13,200 tons) of colistin were used in animal production last year. Over the next five years alone, its annual use is predicted to rise to 16,500 metric tons.
The threat to colistin is far from a one-off. Over the past few decades, our existing antibiotics have increasingly been rendered useless, one by one. But no one can say we haven’t been warned.
Drug resistance is inevitable

More than 70 years ago, Alexander Fleming was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery of penicillin. In his lecture at the Nobel Banquet on Dec. 11, 1945, it seemed Fleming could already see cloudy skies ahead. “The time may come when penicillin can be bought by anyone in the shops,” he told his audience.

Read More – Source: Superbugs are on track to kill 10 million people by 2050 if things don’t change—fast — Quartz

WRITTEN BY : David Cox

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