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How did gonorrhoea become drug resistant?

Mutations to the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoea have been identified, that enable resistance to ceftriaxone, which could lead to the global spread of ceftriaxone-resistant “superbug” strains.

How did gonorrhoea become drug resistant?

The claim comes from a paper on the evolution of drug-resistant gonorrhoea, that is hoped to be useful in monitoring and potentially defending against the disease.

Co-author of the study, Robert Nicholas, Vice Chair of the University of North Carolina’s Department of Pharmacology, said: “The first step in stopping a drug-resistant bacterium is figuring out how it becomes resistant to antibiotics that once were able to kill it.

“Our results give us clues to how ceftriaxone-resistant gonorrhoea is emerging, why this is such a looming problem, and what to focus on to limit it.”

As part of the study, the scientists infected mice with an equal mixture of the non-resistant reference strain and ceftriaxone-resistant, growth-impaired strain. They found some resistant strains quickly developed much higher growth rates and even began to out-compete the fast-growing reference strain.

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