New drug-resistant gene found in water polluted with pharma waste

Hyderabad is now home to a  new resistance gene, named as ‘blaRSA2’, that can render useless even  Carbapenems, the type of antibiotics which are used as last-resort medicines to treat patients

Published: 11th March 2018 10:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th March 2018 10:00 AM   |  A+A-

Iska Vaagu flows adjacent to the pharmaceutical effuent treatment plant at Patancheru, in Hyderabad on Sunday | R Satish Babu

HYDERABAD: Hyderabad is now home to a  new resistance gene, named as ‘blaRSA2’, that can render useless even  Carbapenems, the type of antibiotics which are used as last-resort medicines to treat patients suffering from infections caused due to tough-to-treat, multi-drug resistant bacteria. Moreover,  the new gene has been found to be located on plasmids, that are small circular DNA molecules in cells which can be transferred from one bacteria to another. In simple words, this means that a bacteria possessing the resistant blaRSA2 gene, can transfer its resistance to another bacteria in the environment or even to pathogenic bacteria that cause diseases in humans, thus making them resistant to Carbapenems. 

This  new gene was discovered by researchers from University of Gothenburg,  Sweden, in water samples collected from Iska Vaagu stream that flows  through Patancheru that was found to be polluted with antibiotics in earlier studies, as it gets contaminated by effluent  from pharmaceutical industries and also with treated effluent flowing out of Patancheru Enviro Tech Ltd, a common effluent  treatment plant to treat effluent from pharmaceutical industries.  

The study by researchers from the Swedish university titled ‘Functional metagenomics reveals a novel carbapenem-hydrolyzing mobile beta-lactamase from Indian river sediments contaminated with antibiotic production waste’, reports six new antibiotic-resistant genes that were not reported before, including the blaRSA2. Five of these new resistance genes are found to be resistant to Beta-lactam class of antibiotics,  which includes antibiotics like penicillin-derivatives and cephalosporins and one was found to be resistant to aminoglycosides.

Nachiket P  Marathe, Centre for Antibiotic Resistance Research, University of  Gothenburg and corresponding author of the study said, “We have shown in our earlier studies that antibiotic pollution from drug manufacturing is enriching environmental bacteria with antibiotic resistance genes and mobile genetic elements. This study shows that not only known resistance genes but novel resistance genes that provide resistance to clinically important antibiotics are present in the river sediments polluted by antibiotic production waste. 

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