Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Identifying the rise of multi drug resistant E. coli


 

Antibiotic resistance in E. coli has been steadily increasing since the early 2000s despite attempts to control it, a new study suggests. In the biggest genomic survey of E. coli to date, that took more than 16 years in Norway, researchers have successfully tracked the spread of antibiotic resistant genes and have shown that these genes are being transferred between E. coli strains.

 

Researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and University of Oslo have tracked multidrug resistance in Norway and compared this to a previous study from the UK. They found that resistant strains developed around the same time, but increased more rapidly in the UK population.

 

The results show that tracking these resistant strains is important in the surveillance and control of drug resistant E. coli, which poses a significant issue in hospitals where it can cause severe infection and mortality. In addition, understanding how these genes are transferred between strains, and what has caused them to acquire drug resistance can help prevent the growth of antibiotic resistance strains.

 

The bacterium, Escherichia coli is a common cause of bloodstream infections world-wide, which seem to be increasing over the last decade. E. coli is commonly found in the gut, where it does not cause harm, but if it gets into the bloodstream due to a weakened immune system it can cause severe and life threatening infections. As an added challenge for health care providers, multi-drug resistance (MDR) has become a frequent feature of such infections, and in a worrying number of cases the available treatment options are becoming limited.

 

In the largest study of its kind, and only the second systematic longitudinal genomic study of bacteraemia E. coli, researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the University of Oslo processed a nation-wide catalogue of samples from more than 3,200 patients to track antibiotic resistance over 16 years. By harnessing the power of large-scale DNA sequencing, they tracked the emergence of drug resistance and compared this to a similar study conducted in the UK.

 

The team found that MDR started to increase and show in more strains in the early 2000s due to antibiotic pressure, and now multiple MDR E. coli strains are present in Norway. However, MDR E. coli seems to be more widely present in the UK, despite similar policies in place around antibiotic use. The UK population however is considerably larger than Norway which could explain some of the differences. Further research is needed to allow for closer comparison and to identify the exact factors that cause rapid spread in some locations compared to others.

 

See:

 

Rebecca A Gladstone, et al Emergence and dissemination of antimicrobial resistance in Escherichia coli causing bloodstream infections in Norway in 2002–17: a nationwide, longitudinal, microbial population genomic study. The Lancet Microbe, 2021; DOI: 10.1016/S2666-5247(21)00031-8

 

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (http://www.pharmamicroresources.com/)

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