Anglo-Norwegian study casts light on treatment resistant bacteria
4 Feb 2024
A study comparing the UK and Norway over two decades, has concluded that antibiotic use may drive a rise in treatment-resistant bacteria but not in every instance.
Researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute collaborated with the universities of Oslo and Cambridge on a high-resolution genetic comparison of more than 700 new blood samples, together with nearly 5,000 previously sequenced bacterial samples. They were examining what influenced the spread of antibiotic-resistant Escherichia coli (E. coli).
Published in Lancet Microbe, the work demonstrated that the influence varied depending on the type of broad-spectrum antibiotic used, while the success of antibiotic-resistant genes depended in turn on the genetic makeup of the bacteria transporting them.
Data analysis revealed that one class of antibiotics, non-penicillin beta-lactams, were used three to five times more on average per person in the UK compared to Norway, with a higher incidence of infections by a certain multi-drug resistant E. coli strain.
But MDR (multi-drug resistant) bacteria survival depended on the E. coli strains in the environment. As with other selective pressures in an area, said researchers, it was not possible to assume that using one type of antibiotic will have the same effect on antibiotic-resistant bacteria spread in different countries.
Professor Jukka Corander, senior author from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the University of Oslo, said:
“Our study highlights that the level of drug resistance in widespread E. coli strains can vary substantially. Antibiotic use will be one selective pressure, and our study shows that it is not the only factor that impacts the success of these bacteria.
“Continuing to use genomics to gain a detailed understanding of the underlying drivers of bacterial success is crucial if we are to control the spread of superbugs.”