Saturday, January 29, 2011


Research Shows How Bacteria Stay Ahead Of Vaccines And Antibiotics

The following is the short form of the very interesting research into Strep pneumoniae bacteria and how it changes using data collected over 24 years leading the researchers to the surprising finding of when  the drug resistance started.  If you wish to read the entire article just click on the above link.

'New research provides the first detailed genetic picture of an evolutionary war between Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria and the vaccines and antibiotics used against it over recent decades. Large-scale genome sequencing reveals patterns of adaptation and the spread of a drug-resistant lineage of the S. pneumoniae bacteria.

S. pneumoniae is responsible for a broad range of human diseases, including pneumonia, ear infection and bacterial meningitis. Since the 1970s, some forms of the bacteria have gained resistance to many of the antibiotics traditionally used to treat the disease. In 2000 S. pneumoniae was responsible for 15 million cases of invasive disease across the globe. A new vaccine was introduced to the US in 2000 in an attempt to control disease resulting from the most common and drug resistant forms of the bacteria.

"Drug resistant forms of S. pneumoniae first came onto the radar in the 1970s," says Dr Stephen Bentley, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and senior author on the study. "We sequenced 240 samples collected over the course of 24 years from the PMEN1 lineage of S. pneumoniae. By comparing the sequences, we can begin to understand how this bacterium evolves and reinvents itself genetically in response to human interventions."

The power of next-generation sequencing exposes S. pneumoniae as a pathogen that evolves and reinvents itself with remarkable speed. The degree of diversity was a real surprise in such seemingly closely related organisms. .

"By looking only at the DNA mutations that are passed down through direct ancestry, we constructed an evolutionary tree. When we looked at our tree, we could see that the drug-resistant PMEN1 lineage originated around 1970 - about the time that saw the introduction of the widespread use of antibiotics to fight pneumococcal disease."'

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