Breakthrough! Recent research from the LMA

A deadly bacterium that killed two dozen people in Germany earlier this year was quickly analyzed genetically by international researches—including doctors at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). That allowed doctors to avoid using certain antibiotics that might be ineffective.

DNA of the E. coli bacterium showed that it was resistant to certain antibiotics, including the commonly prescribed ciprofloxacin. The DNA analysis also gave clues as to why that strain of E. coli was so lethal. It passed along its toxic DNA not only to its “children,” but also to neighboring bacteria.

The researchers were able to determine the entire genome, or genetic profile, of the lethal E. coli and 11 related strains.

“These important findings are truly the result of an international collaboration,” said Dr. Matthew Waldor of BWH and HMS, who was part of the effort. The research was published in July in “The New England Journal of Medicine.”

From press materials.

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