A new study published in the journal Science warns India and northeastern China are becoming two hotspots for antibiotic resistance in animals. It is the result of the overuse of antibiotics in livestock, not only to cure diseases but also to fatten cattle and poultry.
Following India and China, countries like Kenya, Uruguay, and Brazil will also become new hot spots. Since 2000, when developing countries approached and expanded intensive farming, their meat production has increased significantly, accounting for at least one-fifth of all global chicken and pig production.
However, along with this result is also the abuse of antibiotics in livestock, promoting animal growth and preventing unnecessary infections. The four most commonly used drugs, including tetracycline, sulfonamides, quinolones, and penicillin, are also the most resistant drugs.
Antimicrobial resistance in animals not only threatens national food security but also increases the risk of pathogens developing to develop antibiotic resistance in humans.
“For the first time, we have some evidence that antibiotic resistance [in farm animals] is increasing and rising rapidly in low- and middle-income countries” said Thomas Van Boeckel, an epidemiologist studied at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.
To study how antibiotic resistance has evolved, Van Boeckel and his colleagues analyzed 901 epidemiological studies conducted in developing countries, focusing on four types of spectrum bacteria. variables: Salmonella, Campylobacter, Staphylococcus and E. coli.
The researchers gathered all the information gathered to create a map, where multi-drug-resistant bacteria persist to locations where the situation is approaching alarming levels:
The research results also show that four antibiotics are being commonly used for animals inside farms, for weight gain rather than cure: tetracycline, sulfonamide, quinolone, and penicillin. Those are the antibiotics with the highest resistance rate.
From 2000 to 2018, the rate of antibiotic-resistant antibiotics has nearly tripled in chickens and pigs and doubled in other cattle.
Carlos Amábile-Cuevas, a microbiologist at the Lusara Foundation research institute in Mexico City, said: `The situation of antibiotic resistance in livestock is becoming more serious because the hot spots it exists are thousands of exporting countries. tons of meat every year.
About one-fifth of chickens and pigs are raised in areas where antibiotic resistance is developing most strongly. Therefore, even in many developed countries that have good policies to control the use of antibiotics on animals, such efforts will be ruined if they import food that is not produced to the same standards.
“This problem [antibiotic resistance] is not limited by political boundaries” said Am Ambile-Cuevas.
In the mid-1950s, only about 10 years after the introduction of antibiotics, we had to witness the first disease where resistant bacteria were transmitted from animals to humans. It is antibiotic-resistant salmonella spread in south-east England.
Many similar illnesses, originating from antibiotic-resistant bacteria in animals, have been occurring ever since. One of the biggest epidemics in US history occurred in 2013-2014, infecting 634 people in 29 states and Puerto Rico, investigated as coming from chickens fed with the antibiotic.
In 2018, a research team at George Washington University presented convincing evidence that antibiotic-resistant bacteria move from animals to humans through their meat. This suggests that the problem of antibiotic resistance in developing countries can also create a synergistic effect on the situation of antibiotic resistance in humans, making the situation increasingly complicated.
In the midst of that, Van Boeckel proposed a solution, saying that high-income countries, where antibiotics had been used since the 1950s, should subsidize safer livestock activities in developing regions around the world where antibiotics are used later but drug-resistant bacteria are increasingly becoming a problem.
“We are also largely responsible for this global issue, which we also contribute to creating,” he said. “If we want to help ourselves, we should help other countries too.”
Know how bacteria evolve can take on and destroy them.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have appeared on Earth billions of years ago. When bacteria or fungi compete for space, they release antibiotics to destroy each other.
If they don’t want to be killed, other bacteria will have to develop antibiotic resistance genes to fight off. The battle between antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant bacteria may have been going on for a long time before Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin and turned it into a panacea.
That’s the theory, but do we have any evidence to support that?
Extract history from the bacterial genome.
Recently, a study published in the journal Nature Microbiology looked back on the genealogy 350-500 million years of some species of bacteria. Scientists say they have reconstructed the history of glycopeptide resistance over millennia.
Glycopeptide is an important class of antibiotics including vancomycin and teicoplanin. These are drugs classified by the World Health Organization as essential, which can be used in cases of strong antibiotic resistance that have rendered many conventional drugs ineffective.
Looking back at millions of years of bacteria’s evolutionary history will help us better understand them in the war for species’ survival. Nowadays, more and more bacteria are developing to resist glycopeptide in particular and all antibiotics in general that humans currently have.
“The results we have discovered from this study will provide a valuable perspective to help examine the ongoing antibiotic crisis,” says biochemist Nicholas Waglechner from McMaster University, Canada. said.
The process of tracking glycopeptide over millions of years is not easy.
As the team emphasized in their paper, glycopeptide antibiotics are secreted from a soil-living bacterium called Actinobacteria. To track glycopeptide synthesis throughout their evolutionary history, researchers had to look at biosynthetic gene clusters (BGC).
BGCs are collections that can contain both glycopeptide-producing genes, modifying them to evolve and resistance genes. But that’s not an easy goal, BGC can regulate bacteria to secrete many different chemical compounds, each of which can have its family tree.
“Extracting this history from genome sequences is difficult, because the remaining individual components of these gene clusters are very different, and each component may have a different evolutionary trajectory,” the team said. writing studies.
Master yourself, master the enemy.
So far, the work of McMaster University is one of the few studies using BGC to look at how antibiotic production and antibiotic resistance scenarios have evolved. Several biosynthesis processes found in bacteria can be exploited to prepare new antibiotics in the future.
Indeed, in their study, scientists discovered that glycopeptide resistance appeared in Actinobacteria at the same time as genes responsible for vancomycin’s ancestral antibiotic production. All this process took place about 350 to 500 million years ago.
“For bacteria, the secretion of these compounds is very helpful, even before dinosaurs appeared on the planet. Antibiotics are a means for bacteria to protect themselves,” Waglechner said. talk.
“In the last few decades, the abuse of vancomycin in modern times – for medical and agricultural purposes – has led the resistance gene to move from harmless bacteria to pathogenic bacteria.”
Putting this into context throughout the evolution of resistance genes in bacteria can help us predict their evolution in the future, thereby, taking the lead and producing drugs that bacteria. could not resist.
The clues from bacterial evolution over millions of years can help us discover strategies to defeat their defenses.
However, the work will have to be conducted as soon as possible. The rate of antibiotic resistance globally is still increasing. Resistant bacteria have been found everywhere on Earth, even in outer space.
Even so, with studies like these, we still have hope. Scientists are doing everything they can to develop next-generation antibiotics, whether it’s looking for new compounds in soil bacteria, insect-infecting bacteria or a combination of existing drugs. have together according to the new rates.
“Our findings are very interesting,” said biochemist Gerry Wright, a new research author from McMaster University, Canada. “Our research shows some possible ways in how we manage antibiotics and find new drugs to fight infections.”
The clues from bacterial evolution over millions of years can help us uncover strategies to defeat their defense systems, thereby solving the problem of antibiotic resistance before it’s too late.