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article imageDo industrial solvents help antibiotic resistance?

By Tim Sandle     May 3, 2014 in Science
Tianjin - Chinese researchers have reported that some industrial solvents may help bacteria share an antibiotic resistance gene. This means that some solvents might be leading to a rise in certain bacterial diseases.
It has been a busy week for antibiotic resistant bacteria news. First came a new report released by the World Health Organization (WHO). The report, analyzed by Pharmaceutical Microbiology, described a "post antibiotic-era—in which common infections and minor injuries can kill—far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st century."
Second came an update from the campaign by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. Brown, as the Digital Journal reported, has proposed the Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance (STAAR) Act. This is legislation aimed at combating antimicrobial resistance.
In addition to these important stories, a report published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters indicates that some industrial solvents may help bacteria share an antibiotic resistance gene.
While so-called “ionic liquids” are usually touted as safer substitutes for volatile organic solvents, which can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in household solutions, such as furniture polishes, paint stripper, and air fresheners, one ionic liquid, 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium hexafluorophosphate (which doesn’t release VOCs), increased by 500 times the abundance of a gene that makes bacteria resistant to the antibiotic sulfonamide. If the results are confirmed or shown to occur with other compounds, another worrying set of factors will concern scientists seeking to redress antibiotic resistance.
More about Antibiotics, Antibiotic resistance, World health organization, Bacteria
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