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A "superbug" gene that was first detected in India — and allows bacteria to evade "last resort" antibiotics — has now been found thousands of miles away, in a remote region of the Arctic, according to a new study.
The findings underscore just how far and wide antibiotic resistance genes have spread, now reaching some of the most far-flung areas of the planet.
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But through overuse of antibiotic drugs, humans have accelerated the rate of bacterial evolution, and in turn, the development of antibiotic resistance in these organisms, leading to "a new world of resistant strains that never existed before," Graham said.
Strain - Gene - BlaNDM-1 - India - Gene
One such strain, carrying a gene called blaNDM-1, was discovered in India in 2008. This gene gave bacteria resistant to a class of antibiotics known as Carbapenems, which doctors generally use as a last resort to treat bacterial infections. Since its discovery, the blaNDM-1 gene has been detected in more than 100 countries.
But the researchers were still surprised when it showed up in the Arctic. "A clinically important [antibiotic resistance gene] originating from South Asia is clearly not 'local' to the Arctic," Graham said.
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