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'Evolutionary forecasting' for drug resistance

Rice University biochemists are developing a system of "evolutionary forecasting" to better understand the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance.

"Our goal is to show antibiotic makers which sets of genes a pathogen will modify to become drug-resistant," said Yousif Shamoo, the principal investigator on a new $1 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "If they know the molecular path that an organism will take to become resistant to a new drug, our hope is that they can find ways to cut off that path."

Drug resistance is a major and growing problem in the U.S. Despite the best efforts of the medical community, documented cases of antibiotic-resistant pathogens like methicillin-resisistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE) have increased dramatically in recent years. For example, a national study found that in 2004 more than 60 percent of patients in intensive care had MRSA and nearly 30 percent had VRE, compared with just 37 percent and 14 percent, respectively, in 1995.
 
 

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