Multi-drug resistant bacterial gene found

Jun 20, 2022 11:50 PM IST

AMU researchers find ‘dangerous’ bacterial gene in Murshidabad hospital waste; multi-drug-resistant infection outbreak a distinct possibility, say researchers

Researchers from the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) have identified a dangerous new variant of a bacterial gene resistant to multiple drugs, on which even last-resort antibiotics may fail. According to researchers, there are fears of the possibility of a multi-drug-resistant infection outbreak due to this multi-drug-resistant gene.

For representation only (HT FIle Photo)
For representation only (HT FIle Photo)

“We have identified a new variant of colistin-resistant gene (mcr-5.1) from a hospital’s sewage water in Murshidabad, West Bengal. This is a first report from India showing signs of emerging colistin resistance which is highly concerning as it may lead to the failure of this last-resort antibiotic,” said the researchers at AMU’s Interdisciplinary Biotechnology Unit in Aligarh.

The researchers said that colistin is used against many multidrug-resistant and extremely drug-resistant bacterial infections, and thus, the emergence of the colistin-resistant gene is a matter of grave concern.

According to the research published in the journal Microbial Drug Resistance, the prevalence of this bacterium in the hospital environment is extremely hazardous, putting healthcare workers, patients, and visitors at a higher risk of exposure.

“This newly identified variant may lead to a multi-drug-resistant bacterial infection outbreak,” warned prof Asad U Khan, the lead author of the research paper describing the finding.

The study was carried out in the microbiology lab of the biotechnology department of the Aligarh Muslim University.

“There is a need to further understand the comprehensive resistome of the whole country which has not yet been explored in detail,” said prof Khan, who was accompanied by Absar Talat and Amina Usmani in the team as researchers.

The research paper reveals that six sewage water samples were collected from six different hospitals located in various regions of India between December 2018 and March 2021.

Out of the six collected hospital sewage water samples, the DNA samples from one obtained from Sub Divisional Hospital at Domkal, Murshidabad, was found to be harbouring the mcr-5.1 gene.

The lack of a closed drainage system and inefficient water treatment strategies can spread the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) to drinking water as well, risking lives leading to a potential MDR bacterial infection outbreak, the research states.

Quoting an earlier study, the researchers recorded in the report, “The predicted mortality rate of 10 million per day by the year 2050 due to antimicrobial resistance is startling and it becomes more minacious for a country like India which is considered an AMR hotspot. According to the World Health Organisation, robust measures at the hospital level are crucial to curb the AMR dissemination in the environment.”


    Hemendra Chaturvedi is based in Agra serving as a Principal Correspondent, covering districts of Agra and Aligarh division of western Uttar Pradesh. He has been with HT since 1992 and has completed 25 year of association with HT.

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