Is antibiotic resistance more common than we thought?

Stuart Levy • FEBRUARY 24, 2015

Stuart Levy of Tufts University discusses briefly the genetics of antibiotic resistance. According to Levy, a goal of medical and biological research is not to destroy resistant bacteria, but to use them as allies so that humans can keep resistance under control. Resistant bacteria become resistant by acquiring resistance genes. Levy says that this process is more naturally-occurring than some policy advocates would have us believe. According to Levy, there are reservoirs of antibiotic resistance in nature. Bacteria with dormant resistance genes are "waiting for antibiotics to come along" so that the correct genes can be expressed. With regard to the use of antibiotics in food animal production, Levy notes that science still does not know how treating one animal with one antibiotic leads to other, different resistances.

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