What leech gut bacteria can tell us about drug resistance | Science News


Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.

News in Brief

What leech gut bacteria can tell us about drug resistance

These microbes were exposed to surprisingly tiny amounts of antibiotics

4:35pm, July 24, 2018

BLOODSUCKER  Medicinal leeches like this contain bacteria in their guts that can be transferred to humans. In some cases, it only takes a small exposure to antibiotics for those bacteria to become drug resistant.

Antibiotic resistance in leeches really sucks.

A bacterium found in leeches’ guts needs exposure to only 0.01 micrograms per milliliter of ciprofloxacin to become resistant to that drug, scientists report July 24 in mBio. That’s about 400 times less than the amount of antibiotics thought to trigger drug resistance in this species of bacteria, says study coauthor Joerg Graf, a biologist at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.

Certain leeches are approved for medical use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help patients heal from reconstructive surgery (SN: 10/23/04, p. 266). The slimy creatures suck up blood and secrete anticoagulants, aiding tissue growth.

In the early 2000s, researchers noticed an uptick in antibiotic-resistant infections in these patients that were caused by the Aeromonas

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More Culture Beaker posts

From the Nature Index Paid Content