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Surprising Science

Scientists Find New Weaknesses in Drug-Resistant Bacteria

A team of biomedical researchers have discovered novel genes in bacteria increasingly responsible for hospital-caused infections. The discovery may result in targets for future drugs.

What’s the Latest Development?

A team of biomedical researchers have discovered a new set of genes that are essential to the growth of drug-resistant bacteria, establishing a novel target for future drugs. “The team performed a genetic screen designed to identify bacterial genes absolutely required for the growth and survival of A. baumannii in human ascites, a peritoneal fluid that accumulates under a variety of pathologic conditions.” Until the study was completed, 18 individual genes had been left undiscovered because they were not necessary for the bacteria to grow in laboratory conditions. 

What’s the Big Idea?

The discovery of new A. baumannii genes is a significant scientific achievement. Because it is resistant to antimicrobial drugs, the bacteria is responsible for a growing number of hospital-acquired infections around the world. “It can be fatal to patients with serious illnesses, the elderly and those who have had surgeries. Infections also have been seen in soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with battlefield injuries.” Lead author of the study, Timothy Umland, said the bacteria’s tendency to cause healthcare-associated infections is one of its largest challenges. 

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