United States: A recent study reveals a superbug, responsible for approximately 300,000 deaths per year, has evolved significantly in the past two centuries. 

Understanding this evolution will help scientists update knowledge on immunity against invading bacteria

More about the superbug 

Named Pseudomonas aeruginosa, this bacterium causes many multidrug-resistant infections, particularly in those with underlying conditions like cystic fibrosis and lung damage from smoking. 

However, it hasn’t always been a significant human threat, reports independent.co.uk. 

According to researchers from the University of Cambridge, who studied almost ten thousand DNA samples of infection caused by the bacterium coming from across the world, a “family tree” of the bug was constructed. 

Superbug Alarms Experts as Common Bacterium Turns Deadly. Credit | AP
Superbug Alarms Experts as Common Bacterium Turns Deadly. Credit | AP

They found that there are only twenty-one “branches” consisting of seven in ten human infections. These variants are said to have rapidly evolved and expanded across the earth in just around 200 years. 

What more have the experts revealed? 

Scientists found some variants can alter DNA, causing genetic defects in cystic fibrosis patients, and affect immune cells called macrophages. 

Additionally, they identified the bug’s rapid spread due to increased population density and pollution, making human lungs more susceptible to infection. 

According to Andres Floto, one of the study’s authors, “Our research has taught us new things about the biology of cystic fibrosis and revealed important ways we might be able to improve immunity against invading bacteria in this and potentially other conditions,” as independent.co.uk reported. 

Superbug Alarms Experts as Common Bacterium Turns Deadly. Credit | Reuters
Superbug Alarms Experts as Common Bacterium Turns Deadly. Credit | Reuters

Dr Floto added, “The focus has always been on how easily this infection can spread between CF patients, but we’ve shown that it can spread with worrying ease between other patients, too.” 

Benefits of the study findings – Expert 

The researchers say the findings will help hospitals better control the spread of superbug infections. 

Moreover, Aaron Weimann, another study author, reported, “It is remarkable to see the speed with which these bacteria evolve and become epidemic and how they can specialize for a particular lung environment.” 

“We really need systematic, pro-active screening of all at-risk patient groups to detect and hopefully prevent the emergence of more epidemic clones,” Weimann continued. 

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