PerspectiveMicrobiology

The evolution of antibiotic resistance

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Science  13 Sep 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6458, pp. 1082-1083
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax3879

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Summary

For most of human history, bacterial pathogens have been a major cause of disease and mortality. The development of antibiotics provided a simple and effective treatment for bacterial infections, and antibiotics have since had huge effects on human health and longevity. These are threatened with the rise of antibiotic resistance (ABR): Many pathogenic bacteria have evolved resistance to the main classes of antibiotics, and multidrug-resistant bacteria have caused untreatable infections. ABR already imposes substantial health and economic burdens, and the global annual cost of ABR could increase to 10 million deaths and US$100 trillion by 2050 (1). Understanding how ABR evolves and spreads is therefore key to improving antibiotic treatment strategies.

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