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Curr Opin Microbiol. 2002 Oct;5(5):472-7.

Why are bacteria refractory to antimicrobials?

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The incidence of antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria is rising. Antibiotic resistance can be achieved via three distinct routes: inactivation of the drug, modification of the target of action, and reduction in the concentration of drug that reaches the target. It has long been recognized that specific antibiotic resistance mechanisms can be acquired through mutation of the bacterial genome or by gaining additional genes through horizontal gene transfer. Recent attention has also brought to light the importance of different physiological states for the survival of bacteria in the presence of antibiotics. It is now apparent that bacteria have complex, intrinsic resistance mechanisms that are often not detected in the standard antibiotic sensitivity tests performed in clinical laboratories. The development of resistance in bacteria found in surface-associated aggregates or biofilms, owing to these intrinsic mechanisms, is paramount.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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