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Scientists track multi drug resistant E.coli

Tuesday May 11th 2021

The largest genomic survey yet of E.coli has found that antibiotic resistance has been steadily increasing over the past 16 years, researchers warn today.

Researchers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, UK, and University of Oslo, Norway, tracked multidrug resistance in Norway and compared it with a previous UK previous study.

They report that resistant strains developed at about the same time, but they increased more rapidly in the UK population.

They say their findings, published in Lancet Microbe, highlight the importance of tracking these resistant strains because the bacterium poses a significant issue in hospitals where it can cause severe infection and mortality.

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 team adds.

In what is the largest study of its kind, and only the second systematic longitudinal genomic study of E.coli, the researchers processed a catalogue of samples from more than 3,200 patients to track antibiotic resistance over 16 years.

The team found that multi-drug resistance (MDR) started to increase and show in more strains in the early 2000s due to antibiotic pressure and that while there are now multiple MDR E.coli strains in Norway, it is more widely present in the UK, despite similar policies in place around antibiotic use.

Co-author Professor Jukka Corander, associate faculty member at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “The high number of samples from the Norwegian population and the level of genomic detail on the strains of bacteria enabled us to make much more far-reaching conclusions than were ever possible before.

“This study demonstrates the power arising from a systematic national surveillance of resistant organisms, which both collects and makes the data available for in-depth analyses. Without these in place, it would have been impossible to approach the central research questions formulated in the study and find answers to them.”

Lead author Dr Rebecca Gladstone, bioinformatician at the University of Oslo, Norway, added: “Being able to estimate the expansion timelines of the MDR clones of E. coli and to identify multiple occasions of novel acquisition of resistance genes is particularly exciting as this is the first time that this has been possible.

“Understanding and tracking the movement of these drug resistance genes and the strains that carry them are necessary for controlling the spread of drug-resistant bacteria, which is a huge issue in healthcare.”

The researchers hope to conduct similar research in the UK to build on previous studies.

Gladstone RA, Corander J, Samuelsen Ø et al. Emergence and dissemination of antimicrobial resistance in Escherichia coli causing bloodstream infections: a nationwide longitudinal microbial population genomic cohort study in Norway between 2002-2017. Lancet Microbe. May 2021

[abstract]

Tags: Europe | Gastroenterology | UK News

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