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Researchers in the University of Georgia have discovered the existence of a gene that could create widespread antimicrobial resistance, which would put humanity existentially at risk.

The gene has long been feared to exist, and now that they’ve discovered it occuring in nature, the concern has moved very much out of the theoretical and into the real.

The risk is considered in the top 10 of potential risks to human existance.

Gene discovered in Georgia water a possible global threat

From phys.org
2022-01-11 17:59:09

Excerpt:

A gene that causes bacteria to be resistant to one of the world’s most important antibiotics, colistin, has been detected in sewer water in Georgia. The presence of the MCR-9 gene is a major concern for public health because it causes antimicrobial resistance, a problem that the World Health Organization has declared “one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity.”

Researchers from the University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety (CFS) collected sewage water from an urban setting in Georgia to test for the MCR gene in naturally present bacteria. Led by College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences assistant professor Issmat Kassem, whose research focuses on MCR’s presence around the world, the team was surprised at how quickly they detected MCR—they found evidence of the gene in the first sample they took.

Kassem said that demonstrates that the gene is becoming established in the U.S.

The bacteria where the gene was found, Morganella morganii, added further concern for Kassem. This marked the first time that MCR was found in M. morganii, which is problematic because it is a bacteria not often tested by researchers. This means that the problem could be considerably more widespread than initially thought.

 

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