Antimicrobial resistance and future plastics

How has a gene for resistance evolved long before the antiseptic it's resistant to?
21 August 2019
Presented by Adam Murphy
Production by Adam Murphy.


Artists impression of bacteria


Bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to many of the agents we use to deal with them, including antiseptics. The bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii is one example and causes hard to treat skin, chest, and urine infections in hospitals. Now, a team at the University of Newcastle, Australia have discovered a gene that renders Acinetobacter resistant to the chemical chlorhexidine that’s used in hand disinfectants. But the gene evolved long before the antiseptic was invented, so what was it doing previously? As well as finding out, Adam Murphy also heard from lead author Karl Hassan how the discovery could help us to make more environmentally-friendly forms of plastic. 


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