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New Discovery in Saudi Arabia Could Combat Antibiotic Resistance

Researchers discovered a new bacterial species – and the role misdiagnosis plays in a harmful global health problem.

Scene Now Saudi

New Discovery in Saudi Arabia Could Combat Antibiotic Resistance

Saudi scientists’ recent discovery of a new bacterial species, stenotrophomonas riyadhensis, could be a breakthrough in combating antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance is a phenomenon in which bacteria evolve to become immune to the drugs that treat them. This happens when the drugs that are used to treat a bacterial disease fail to kill the entire population of harmful bacteria. The bacteria that survive drug treatment multiply, resulting in an increased number of pathogens that are unaffected by medicine.

One factor that can lead to antibiotic resistance is not taking a course of antibiotics as it was prescribed (for example, not completing a full course of antibiotics or not following the proper antibiotic schedule). Another, as shown by researchers at Riyadh’s King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, is misidentification of the bacteria in question.

Using a technique called whole-genome sequencing, Saudi researchers recognised that the antibiotic resistance that plagued patients in a 2019 outbreak of pseudomonas aeruginosa was in fact a symptom of misdiagnosis. Through a process known as whole-genome sequencing, researchers discovered that the bacteria present in these cases was a completely different species than the one doctors originally thought. Misidentifying the bacteria led to misidentifying the correct course of treatment, leading to doctors administering medicine that failed to cure their patients.

This discovery provides a path forward for better treatment of bacterial infections. It suggests that antibiotic resistance, which is on the rise globally, might be avoided by performing better bacterial screenings. In addition, the discovery showed that using whole-genome sequencing to identify bacteria also gives researchers insights into the resistance mechanisms of these harmful microbes, leading to advancements in drug development.


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