Taking 40 samples of the polar soil, the researchers found a protein that had been discovered in India many years before, and which causes bacteria to resist these drugs. They still do not know exactly how he could get there.
Throughout 2018, this newspaper published several news related to one of the most alarming public health problems: antibiotic resistance of bacteria. “The World Health Organization warns of a high level of antibiotic resistance,” “Antibiotic resistance can lead to 2.4 million deaths over the next 30 years,” “Pharmaceutical companies stop producing antibiotics,” some of the names that carried these articles the complexity of the issue. (Read former Minister of Education, new president of the Pharmaceutical Association)
To these messages, which often seem apocalyptic, simply added news that relates to the scientific community. In a work published in a journal Ecological InternationalA team of researchers has shown that these “super powers” of bacteria are growing at a pace that no one expected. (Read the tangled case of a medicine for which Colombia paid almost $ 9 billion)
An example to which they explain this: after sampling soil on the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard in 2013, they discovered a protein that first appeared in 2008 at a hospital in New Delhi (India). NDM-1, as they called it then, makes the bacteria resistant to antibiotics that must fight them.
Carlos Pedros-Alio, a research professor at the Institute of Marine Sciences of Barcelona (CSIC), summarized the disturbing nature of this discovery with the words El País de España: “This shows how easy the scattering is. The world we live in is too small for bacteria. "
What he has in mind is that it took several years for this protein to spread throughout most of the world. Today's records show that it is already present in more than 100 countries.
In order to discover that the Arctic also became a territory with the presence of NDM-1, the authors took 40 samples of the polar soil. In total, they found 131 antibiotic resistance genes.
How did they get there? It is difficult to answer this question, but researchers have several hypotheses. One of them indicates that the perpetrators may be the excreta of animals or people who have visited this territory. It is also possible that it is tolerated by bacteria that some birds may carry on their feet or feathers.
In the face of uncertainty, Claire McCann of Newcastle University and lead author of the study have a recommendation that can help clarify doubts. As he said to El Pais, it is necessary to understand how these bacteria are transmitted through water, and to find more effective ways to control this transmission. Improving waste management and water quality globally is one of the most favorable routes.