Discovery promising for millions at risk from antibiotic resistance

18 Aug 2020

There is new hope for approximately 700,000 people who die each year from antibiotic resistant infections, with University of Queensland researchers discovering how bacteria share antibiotic-resistance genes.

UQ’s Professor Mark Schembri said antibiotic resistant bacteria, in particular emerging ‘superbugs’, could lead to around 10 million deaths globally by 2050.

Superbugs caught in the act of transferring an antibiotic resistance plasmid through their syringe-like 'pilus', labelled with arrows. 

“The diminishing pool of effective antibiotics makes these infections a major threat to human health, so it’s critical we understand the exact mechanics of how antibiotic resistance spreads between different bacteria,” Professor Schembri said.

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The research has been published in Nature Microbiology (DOI: 10.1038/s41564-020-0775-0).

The multidisciplinary team included researchers from the UQ School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, the UQ Centre for Clinical Research, the UQ Institute for Molecular Bioscience, the University of Melbourne and the University of Oxford.