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Antibiotic Multi-resistance: Why Bacteria Are So Effective

In an article published in Science, teams from the Institut Pasteurand the University of Limoges, associated with the CNRS and Inserm, decipher for the first time the molecular mechanism that enables bacteria to acquire multi-resistance to antibiotics, and that even allows them to adapt this resistance to their environment. This discovery highlights the difficulties that will have to be tackled by public health strategies if they are to address the problems created by multi-resistance.

Multiresistance of bacteria to antibiotics is a phenomenon that appeared when these drugs began to be used in the 1950s. It was subsequently discovered that resistance genes were easily captured, disseminated and exchanged from one bacterium to another by a system involving genetic "copying and pasting" of the structures containing these genes, known as integrons. But the dynamics of these exchanges, which governs the multi -resistance development in bacteria, remained unknown.

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