Well, what doctors have been dreading has happened: a drug-resistant “superbug” has reared it’s head in the U.S. for the first time, researchers reported last week.
This particular strain of bacteria has evolved a resistance mutation to our “last ditch” antibiotic colistin. While researchers have seen this elsewhere internationally, this is the first time we have seen it in the U.S.
The researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute for Research were responsible for identifying the “superbug” in a woman from Pennsylvania. The particular strain of E. coli bacteria was identified as containing a gene mutation known as “mcr-1” that is most often associated with antibiotic “superbug” resistance.
In this particular case, the patient responded well to a different type of antibiotic. However, researchers are concerned that the mcr-1 mutation could be passed on to another bacterial superbug with additional mutations, creating a truly resistant superbug.
But there is some hope.
In a study published last Tuesday, researchers were able to reengineer an older vaccine, vancomycin, to make it more powerful to fight off newer mutations of superbug-type bacterial strains.
It truly is an arms race — hopefully we win.