NUST, US scientists find similar genes in superbugs

MONITORING REPORT ISB: Tahir Hussain, a PhD student from NUST, Pakistan, in collaboration with scientists of Washington University, worked on clinical pathogenic bacteria collected in Pakistani and US hospitals. The exciting research work was published in the journal, “Emerging Infectious Diseases”, which is the top ranked journal of epidemiology in the world.Two genes are primarily responsible for carbapenem-resistant versions of these disease-causing bacteria. One is KPC detected in New York in 2001 and the other is NDM-1 identified in 2008 in New Delhi.

Tahir Hussain along with other researchers in the laboratory of Dr. Gautam Dantas compared the whole genomes of carbapenem-resistant bacteria isolated in US with those of carbapenem-resistant bacteria isolated in Pakistan. The bacterias high genetic similarity suggests that the antibiotic resistance genes could be shared easily between bacteria from the two geographic regions.

Most of a bacterias DNA is found in its chromosome, but bacteria also have many extra, smaller and circular bits of DNA known as plasmids.They identified a few key instances in which the plasmids carrying NDM-1 or KPC were nearly identical, meaning they could easily facilitate the spread of antibiotic resistance between disease-causing bacteria found in US and South Asia.

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