A picture of a bacterium with different antibiotic resistance mechanisms illustrated
A summary of antibiotic resistance mechanisms

Summary of Week 3

This week you learned about AMR, one of the major issues facing humanity.

You learned about the issues that have led to the current AMR crisis, such as overuse of antibiotics, lack of new drugs and a lack of accurate and quick diagnostic tests to help treat infections correctly. Nick Thomson highlighted these issues and the magnitude of the problem.

You discovered how bacteria become resistant to antibiotics. For some bugs, resistance to select drugs is their natural state. For others, they become resistant through very rare mutations on their chromosomes. In other cases, bacteria acquire genes encoding resistance from their environment or from other bacteria or phages (bacterial viruses). Mechanisms for resistance can be anything from pumping a drug out of the cell, to changing or overproducing its target, to destroying the drug with an enzyme, and we learned about specific examples of each of these strategies.

The potential of genomics to help address the AMR crisis was discussed by Estee Torok in her interview. We also learned that the first routine use of genomics in a public health system is starting in the UK - all tuberculosis bacteria will be whole-genome sequenced, in order to determine what drugs they are resistant to, and the best therapy to give to patients.

Now it’s time for the assessment for the course. We wish you well and hope you enjoy the challenge.

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This article is from the free online course:

Bacterial Genomes: Disease Outbreaks and Antimicrobial Resistance

Wellcome Genome Campus Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences