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The New Jersey Life Sciences Vendors Alliance (NJLSVA) is a coalition of businesses, individuals and academia who provide goods and services to New Jersey’s life sciences companies.

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U.S. Patient’s Infection Raises Specter of Superbugs Resistant to All Antibiotics

Superbug definitionNew York, NY, May 31, 2016 ― Sabrina Tavernise and Denise Grady reported in The New York Times that American military researchers have identified the first patient in the United States to be infected with bacteria that are resistant to an antibiotic that was the last resort against drug-resistant germs.

The patient is well now, but the case raises the specter of superbugs that could cause untreatable infections, because the bacteria can easily transmit their resistance to other germs that are already resistant to additional antibiotics.

The resistance can spread because it arises from loose genetic material that bacteria typically share with one another.

“Think of a puzzle,” said Dr. Beth Bell, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  “You need lots of different pieces to get a result that is resistant to everything. This is the last piece of that puzzle, unfortunately, in the United States. We have that genetic element that would allow for bacteria that are resistant to every antibiotic.”

The bacteria are resistant to a drug called colistin, an old antibiotic that in the United States is held in reserve to treat especially dangerous infections that are resistant to a class of drugs called carbapenems.  If carbapenem-resistant bacteria, called CRE, also pick up resistance to colistin, they will be unstoppable.

“This is huge,” said Dr. Lance Price, a researcher at George Washington University.  “We are one step away from CRE strains that cannot be treated with antibiotics. We now have all the pieces in place for it to be untreatable.”

For the full New York Times story, click here.