At a societal level, once we know the genetic steps to resistance, we could conceivably begin a surveillance system for pre-superbugs. Hospitals routinely sample their facilities for resistant bacteria. Collating those genetic data from across the country or around the world could help scientists catch trends in emerging resistance; with that knowledge, medical officials could temporarily restrict certain antibiotics until the trend reverses.
Photomicrograph of Diplococcus pneumoniae, showing capsular swelling as seen in the Neufeld-quellung test for pneumococcus typing. One of the most common organisms causing respiratory infection.
S 11, slide 7; C57582
“The rate of change of genomics is stunning,” Parkhill said. “And I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that there will be point of care sequencing in a short time frame. What that enables us to do is not just ask what antibiotics is this organism resistant to and therefore we shouldn’t use, but also conversely what antibiotics is this organism sensitive to and, therefore, which ones we can use.”
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