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Antibiotic and biocide resistance in bacteria: introduction.

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Welsh School of Pharmacy, Cardiff University, UK.


Drug resistance in bacteria is increasing and the pace at which new antibiotics are being produced is slowing. It is now almost commonplace to hear about methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), multi-drug resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MDRTB) strains and multi-drug-resistant (MDR) gram-negative bacteria. So-called new and emerging pathogens add to the gravity of the situation. Reduced susceptibility to biocides is also apparently increasing, but is more likely to be low level in nature and to concentrations well below those used in hospital, domestic an industrial practice. A particular problem, however, is found with bacteria and other micro-organisms present in biofilms, where a variety of factors can contribute to greater insusceptibility compared with cells in planktonic culture. Also of potential concern is the possibility that widespread usage of biocides is responsible for the selection and maintenance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The basic mechanisms of action of, and bacterial resistance to, antibiotics are generally well documented, although data continue to accumulate about the nature and importance of efflux systems. In contrast, the modes of action of most biocides are poorly understood and consequently, detailed evaluation of bacterial resistance mechanisms is often disappointing. During this Symposium, the mechanisms of bacterial resistance to antibiotics and biocides are discussed at length. It is hoped that this knowledge will be used to develop newer, more effective drugs and biocides that can be better and perhaps, on occasion, more logically used to combat the increasing problem of bacterial resistance.

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