Identifying pathogens that carry carbapenemases to help reduce antimicrobial resistance


The discovery and clinical application of penicillin in the 1940s is one of the greatest achievements in medicinal chemistry: millions of lives have been saved by this magic molecule. Even today, more than 70 years later, these β-lactam antibiotics still belong to the most important classes of therapeutic agents in the treatment of infectious diseases [1]. Among these life-saving molecules, carbapenems, such as meropenem, imipenem and doripenem, are considered as ‘antibiotics of last resort’ due to their exceptionally broad spectrum against bacterial pathogens and more impressively, effectiveness to microbes that are resistant to most other antibiotics [2]. However, unfortunately, bacterial resistance to carbapenems has emerged and is spreading all over the world at an alarming rate, presumably as a result of intensive applications of these antibiotics. Based on a report by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [3], over 40 states in USA have confirmed the presence of at least one type of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae  in healthcare facilities and it causes more than 9000 infections each year in USA.

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