The Arctic, another territory where resistance to antibiotics has arrived


After collecting 40 samples of polar soil, the researchers discovered a protein that years earlier had been discovered in India that causes bacteria to resist these drugs. They still do not know precisely how he could get there.

Throughout 2018, this newspaper has published several news related to one of the most worrisome public health problems: the resistance that bacteria are getting to antibiotics. "The World Health Organization warns of the high rate of antibiotic resistance," "Resistance to antibiotics can cause 2.4 million deaths in the next 30 years," "Pharmaceutical companies are stopping the manufacture of antibiotics" some of the titles which contained these articles and which summarize the complexity of this subject. (Read A former education minister, the new president of the pharmaceutical association)

For these messages, which often seem apocalyptic, has just added news that worries the scientific community. In a paper published in the journal International EnvironmentalA team of researchers has shown that these "superpowers" of bacteria are expanding at a rate no one expected. (Read the confusing case of a remedy for which Colombia paid almost $ 9 billion)

The example they explain is that after collecting soil samples in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard in 2013, they found a protein that first appeared in a hospital in 2008 in New Delhi, India. NDM-1, as they called it then, makes the bacteria resistant to antibiotics that should fight it.

Carlos Pedrós-Alió, research professor at the Institute of Marine Sciences of Barcelona (CSIC), summed up the disturbing nature of this finding with the words El Pais de España: "This shows how easy it is to spread. bacteria. "

What you are referring to is that it took a few years for this protein to spread throughout much of the world. Today records indicate that it is already present in more than 100 countries.

To find that the Arctic also became a territory with the presence of NDM-1, the authors collected 40 polar soil samples. In all, they found 131 antibiotic resistance genes.

How did they get there? Answering this question is difficult, but researchers have several assumptions. One indicates that the culprits may be the feces of animals or humans who have visited this territory. It is also possible that it has been carried on bacteria that some birds can carry on their feet or feathers.

In the face of uncertainty, Clare McCann, of Newcastle University and lead author of the study, has a recommendation that can help answer questions. As he told El Pais, it is necessary to understand how these bacteria are being transmitted by water and to find more effective ways of controlling this transmission. Improving waste management and water quality on a global scale is one of the most propitious routes.


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