Arctic genes enhancing superbugs’ resistance to antibiotics discovered
© RIA Novosti. Alexander Kovalev

Arctic genes enhancing superbugs’ resistance to antibiotics discovered

Scientists working in the Arctic have discovered DNA samples that contain genes linked with the resistance of so-called superbugs to antibiotics with multiple curative properties, according to a research paper published in the Environment International journal.

According to the newspaper, The Guardian, these genes were first discovered inside bacteria singled out from an Indian patient in 2007-2008 and later inside bacteria inhabiting surface waters in New Delhi in 2010. Today, their presence has been confirmed inside DNA samples obtained from the soils of the polar Svalbard (Spitsbergen) Archipelago.

During the research, scientists removed DNA tissues from 40 soil samples in eight locations in the Svalbard (Spitsbergen) Archipelago. They discovered a total of 131 genes that make the bacteria immune to various antibiotics. At the same time, the blaNDM-1 gene that helps microbes withstand virtually all carbapenems, used at hospitals, was present in over 60 percent of studied soil samples.

David Graham, a professor at Newcastle University, who headed the research team, said the discovery highlighted the role of poor sanitation in facilitating resistance to antibiotics. According to the professor, "What humans have done through excess use of antibiotics is accelerate the rate of evolution, creating resistant strains that never existed before."

According to the paper, superbugs kill about 2,000 people in the United Kingdom annually.