Microbes slowed by one drug can rapidly develop resistance to another

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - 08:10 in Health & Medicine

Infectious bacteria that are down but not quite dead yet may be more dangerous than previously thought. Even as one antibiotic causes the bacteria to go dormant, the microbes may more easily develop resistance to another drug, according to new research. Deadly Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that could tolerate one type of antibiotic developed resistance to a second antibiotic nearly three times faster than fully susceptible bacteria did, researchers report in the Jan. 10 Science. The findings could suggest why drug cocktails used to knock out infections quickly sometimes fail, and may eventually lead to changes in the way antibiotics are prescribed in certain situations. “Tolerance is not as well-known or as well-publicized [as resistance], but [this] work shows it is extremely important,” says Allison Lopatkin, a computational biologist at Barnard College in New York City, who was not involved in the study. “It is very much happening, and we need to pay closer attention to it.” Antibiotic-tolerant bacteria...

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