A new superbug equipped with a gene that renders the current generation of antibiotics useless has begun to spread around the globe. The bacteria--which is armed with the NDM-1 gene--has been found in close to 200 patients in south Asia as well as the UK, raising the prospect that it will soon appear in other countries as well.
MRSA has already raised fears about drug-resistant bacteria, spurring a lineup of biotech companies to start work on a new generation of bacteria-fighters. But this new superbug belongs to a separate family from the MRSA strain, living in the gut and swiftly jumping to other bacteria that it comes in contact with. And the appearance of this new superbug is likely to fuel R&D programs into a new and more effective generation of antibiotics.
Health officials for now are spreading an alert to watch out for ailing travelers who have been hospitalized recently in India and Pakistan. "The possibility of this becoming a global problem very quickly is immense," says Timothy Walsh in an interview with Bloomberg. Walsh was the lead researcher of a new study on the NDM-1 gene.