Antibiotic resistance

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Antibiotic resistance is a type of drug resistance where a microorganism is able to survive exposure to an antibiotic. Genes can be transferred between bacteria in a horizontal fashion by conjugation, transduction, or transformation. Thus a gene for antibiotic resistance which had evolved via natural selection may be shared. Evolutionary stress such as exposure to antibiotics then selects for the antibiotic resistant trait. Many antibiotic resistance genes reside on plasmids, facilitating their transfer. If a bacterium carries several resistance genes, it is called multiresistant or, informally, a superbug or super bacterium.

The primary cause of antibiotic resistance is genetic mutation in bacteria. The prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacteria is a result of antibiotic use both within medicine and veterinary medicine. The greater the duration of exposure the greater the risk of the development of resistance irrespective of the severity of the need for antibiotics. As resistance becomes more common there becomes a greater need for alternative treatments. However despite a push for new antibiotic therapies there has been a continued decline in the number of newly approved drugs.[1] Antibiotic resistance therefore poses a significant problem.

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