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Superbug genome sequenced
Date:5/7/2008

The genome of a newly-emerging superbug, commonly known as Steno, has just been sequenced. The results reveal an organism with a remarkable capacity for drug resistance. The research was carried out by scientists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute near Cambridge and the University of Bristol.

Understanding the genome of this bacterium will help researchers discover how to deal with this particularly resistant organism. The paper will be published in Genome Biology.

Dr Matthew Avison from the University of Bristol, and senior author on the paper said: This is the latest in an ever-increasing list of antibiotic-resistant hospital superbugs. The degree of resistance it shows is very worrying. Strains are now emerging that are resistant to all available antibiotics, and no new drugs capable of combating these pan-resistant strains are currently in development.

Pan-resistant Steno infections are at least as hard to treat as MRSA and C.diff infections. But although it is common in the environment, Steno infections are rarer than MRSA and C.diff infections and are exclusively hospital-acquired.

Steno flourishes in moist environments, such as around taps and shower heads, and can be transferred to patients. It is distinct in the way it causes infection and can only get into the body via devices such as catheters or ventilation tubes that are left in place for long periods of time. Long-dwelling catheters are used most often for seriously ill patients and some undergoing chemotherapy.

Steno can stick to the catheter and grow into a biofilm. When the catheter is next flushed, the Steno biofilm can enter the patients bloodstream. If their immune system is impaired (which is often the case in the seriously ill and those undergoing chemotherapy) the organism can multiply and cause septicaemia. The gravity of this situation has been underlined by the new research, since these patients will be treated with antibiotics again
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Contact: Cherry Lewis
cherry.lewis@bristol.ac.uk
44-117-928-8086
University of Bristol
Source:Eurekalert

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