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Resistance to antibiotics: When 1+1 is not 2

The evolution of multiple antibiotic resistances is a global and difficult problem to eradicate. Isabel Gordo, a group leader at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC)- Portugal, reports in the paper published in the latest issue of PLoS Genetics (*), that the deleterious effect associated with the acquisition of resistance by a bacteria can be suppressed by the acquisition of a new resistance to another antibiotic. These findings have direct implications for the approaches taken to tackle the problem of multi-resistance to antibiotics and in the choice of antibiotics to be administrated to patients.

Acquisition of mutations is one of the ways by which bacteria become resistant to antibiotics. But this comes with a cost: although crucial for bacteria survival in a medium with antibiotics, in its absence bacteria growth rate is reduced. Although it is not possible to impaired bacteria to evolve and adapt to the environment, it is possible to choose the type of selective pressure (antibiotics) to administrate and, in this way, alter the course of evolution to our favour. This study shows the importance of knowing the costs of multi-resistance to find the best antibiotic combinations (the ones that carry more costs to the bacteria).
 
 

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