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Beta-lactamases: Worse than we knew

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  • Beta-lactamases: Worse than we knew


    The ?Indian superbug?: Worse than we knew

    * By Maryn McKenna Email Author
    * September 14, 2010

    Just about a month ago, the disease-geek world was riveted by news of the ?Indian superbug?: common bacteria carrying a newly recognized gene that confers profound multi-drug resistance, and that was linked to travel between Europe and South Asia, especially for medical tourism.

    The gene, which directs production of an enzyme called NDM-1 for short, was briefly Bug of the Week, the spur for alarmist headlines in every Internet echo chamber and the target of denunciations by Indian politicians, who vilified the discovery as a Western ?pharma conspiracy? spurred by envy of lucrative medical tourism.

    And then, just as quickly as it popped into public consciousness, NDM-1 slid back under the news-radar horizon.

    Or so it seemed. Researchers though remain deeply concerned about NDM-1, along with a wider array of dire resistance factors of which it has suddenly become the best-known. This week, I?m at ICAAC (the annual Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy), an enormous 12,000-person meeting focused on infectious diseases and the drugs to treat them, and talk of NDM-1 is everywhere.

    The news is not good...

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