Washington State University researchers have developed an easy-to-use software program to identify drug-resistant genes in bacteria.

The program could make it easier to identify the deadly antimicrobial resistant bacteria that exist in the environment. Such microbes annually cause more than 2.8 million difficult-to-treat pneumonia, bloodstream and other infections and 35,000 deaths in the U.S. The researchers, including PhD computer science graduate Abu Sayed Chowdhury, Shira Broschat in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Douglas Call in the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, report on their work in the journal Scientific Reports.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria or other microorganisms evolve or acquire genes that encode drug-resistance mechanisms. Bacteria that cause staph or strep infections or diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia have developed drug-resistant strains that make them increasingly difficult and sometimes impossible to treat. The problem is expected to worsen in future decades in terms of increased infections, deaths, and health costs as bacteria evolve to “outsmart” a limited number of antibiotic treatments.



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