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Researcher searches for clues to antibacterial resistance

Antibiotics have saved millions of lives by killing the bacteria that make people sick. But the bacteria are now fighting back, as more of them become resistant to those important medications.

Molecular epidemiologist Prof. Patrick Boerlin is working with researchers in the United States and Alberta on several projects, studying antibiotic resistance in bacteria from beef cattle. Earlier this year he received a five-year grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council to further study this issue in chickens, pigs and dogs. These studies will also ultimately have an impact on people.

Boerlin is tracking resistant bacteria using their DNA, making it possible to identify particular strains as they pass from animal to animal or person to person (and in some cases, between animals and people). In many cases, however, the genes that make bacteria resistant to antibiotics are found on plasmids and other “mobile genetic elements” that can be passed from one bacterium to another.

Read the entire article by Teresa Pitman here.