Scientists at the University of Sheffield have uncovered an evolutionary gateway that enables pneumonia cells to develop resistance to antibiotics.
In their recent study, researchers identified a genetic scar present in bacterial genomes as they acquire resistance to antibiotic treatments.
This discovery represents a substantial advancement in comprehending the mechanisms behind antibiotic resistance, providing scientists with the ability to more accurately predict which pneumonia strains are likely to become highly resistant in the future. This knowledge empowers them to implement control measures proactively, ultimately contributing to the preservation of patients' lives.
Pneumonia is a grave infection and ranks as the UK’s third leading cause of death. Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae) bacteria are responsible for these infections. Patients are prescribed antibiotics to eradicate the bacteria, but these pathogens are increasingly developing resistance, posing a significant long-term threat to effective patient treatment.
The research team in Sheffield has pinpointed mutations known as pde1, serving as a pivotal evolutionary gateway through which S. pneumoniae cells initiate the development of antibiotic resistance.
Pneumonia is a dangerous and deadly infection and effective treatment with antibiotics is essential for patient care. However, the effectiveness of antibiotics is increasingly under threat as the bacteria which cause pneumonia become resistant to antibiotic treatment over time. This research has identified a genetic scar left in the genomes of bacteria as they become resistant to antibiotic treatment. This is a major step forward in understanding how resistance occurs and how we might be able to predict it.”
Dr Andrew Fenton, Study Lead Author, School of Biosciences, University of Sheffield
Dr Andrew Fenton adds, “If we understand the emergence of antibiotic resistance then we can predict what groups of bacterial strains are becoming more dangerous. Giving us time to put control measures in place to stop their spread, saving patients’ lives.”
In the past decade, numerous extensive genome association and genetic studies have concentrated on S. pneumoniae antibiotic resistance. Unfortunately, these efforts have not yet yielded effective solutions.
However, the study published in the journal PNAS marks a notable advancement in the molecular comprehension of antibiotic resistance. It introduces pde1 to the limited group of mutations known to facilitate antibiotic resistance in S. pneumoniae.