Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Escherichia coli: The new strain of E coli that is three times more powerful than normal strains has been finally linked to Europe

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, June 6: The new strain of Escherichia coli that is three times more powerful than normal strains has been finally linked to Europe. The new strain has evolved in Germany after a strain detected in 2001 there underwent complex mutations to emerge into a superbug, resistant to as many as eight antibiotics.
Incidentally, this is the first time in two years that a new superbug has not been linked to India. European researchers created a flutter after they linked the NDM-1 superbug to New Delhi and blamed India for producing multi-drug resistant bacteria and infecting foreigners visiting the country for medical treatment. This time too, a group of scientists linked the German outbreak to an African strain of E coli in a bid to save the "good health" image of Europe.
But a team of Chinese scientists at the Beijing Genomics Institute, which has sequenced the genome of the new E coli strain, has linked its evolution to Europe, thus absolving India and Africa of any likely false accusations. Scientists have also clarified that the new strain is not a product human intelligence.
"The new strain is quite complex and such complex events takes place only in a natural setting. It cannot be genetically engineered in a laboratory," said Dr Niyaz Ahmed of University of Hyderabad.
Dr Ahmed, who was in Germany last week to collaborate E coli research with a team of German scientists at the famous Robert Koch Institute, told this correspondent that the new strain has triple action against infected human beings. While normal E coli strains cause loose motions and vomiting, this strain is capable of damaging kidneys and triggering seizures too.
"What is baffling is that it is attacking women in particular. Most of the victims are women and further studies need to be done to understand the new strain," he added.
Analysis of the genome of the new strain indicates that it has identical profile of the German strain (01-09591 originally isolated in 2001). At some point over this 10-year period the new strain seems to have developed the ability to resist many additional types of antibiotics. The Chinese team rejected the claim that it has evolved in Africa (strain 55989). The new strain has evolved fast and gained more genes in the last one decade to emerge three times more powerful.

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