MCR-1 gene news: Drug-resistant gene discovered in Canada

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A new drug-resistant gene has been found in meat sold in Canada.

According to the Toronto Star, this MCR-1 gene was first detected in China. It has since been discovered in E. coli bacteria in meat sold in Ontario.

The MCR-1 gene is resistant to the last-resort antibiotic named colistin. Colistin is highly toxic and is used when other drugs have failed.

On Nov. 18, 2015, the scientific journal, The Lancet, said, “Although currently confined to China, MCR-1 is likely to emulate other global resistance mechanisms such as NDM-1.”

The source of the superbug is likely to be hospital patients, meat, and farm animals.

In Canada, the superbug gene was found in three different cases. One was described in a 2013 paper by Dr. Baldwin Toye in which he described the case of a 62-year old patient in Ottawa who picked up the bug while living in Egypt. The two other cases were drawn from beef samples from a market chain and a butcher shop. The two samples were collected from two different locations in two different times in 2010.

Michael Mulvey, chief of antimicrobial resistance at Public Health Agency of Canada in Winnipeg, believes “there’s global dissemination of this gene already.”

Timothy Walsh, a microbiologist with Cardiff University, initially understood it was that impossible to have a “mobile colistin resistance.” However, he came to the conclusion that once the resistance becomes “mobile,” transference becomes much easier.

In an interview with the Ottawa Sun, Toye said that the colistin resistance has been recently found on Plasmid. Plasmid is part of a person’s DNA that bacteria can share, making the resistance easily transferable to other living organisms.

When asked during the interview what this meant for Canadian patients, Toye responded, “It’s something that people don’t have to be concerned about at the present time.”

However, Toye also added that scientists and physicians needed proper testing methods and screening procedures in hospitals and labs.