New gene may turn bacteria into superbug

According to an article published Wednesday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, some British patients who underwent plastic surgery in South Asia now carry a... More Below... Posted by on Aug 12th, 2010 and filed under Health.

According to an article published Wednesday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, some British patients who underwent plastic surgery in South Asia now carry a new gene that has the potential to turn almost any bacteria into an antibiotic-resistant bug.

Researchers said that the so-called superbug gene has so far been identified in 37 people who returned to Great Britain after undergoing surgery in India or Pakistan.

The new gene, called NDM-1, can easily be transferred into common bacteria such as E. coli, British researchers reported the article. The gene alters bacteria, making them resistant to nearly all known antibiotics.

Dr. Martin Blaser, chairman of the department of medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center, said, “Most of modern medicine is based on the notion that antibiotics will work. If you no longer knew antibiotics worked, you couldn’t do as much surgery, chemotherapy, transplantation. Antibiotics are part of the foundation of modern medical care.”

(Thanks to ABC News and Wikipedia)