Shedding Light On Antibiotic Resistance


A study led by Texas A&M researchers examined the ultraviolet light-based treatment of antibiotic resistance genes in wastewater.

Antibiotics are one of the greatest public health breakthroughs of the 20th century and at the heart of one of the largest public health threats of the 21st century: antibiotic resistance.

A growing human population has led to greater use of antibiotics for people and in agriculture, and because antibiotics are not completely metabolized, they end up in municipal wastewater. Because most current wastewater treatment facilities cannot fully remove antibiotics, treated water and other products of the treatment process end up in the environment, creating a near-ideal setting for the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and transfer of antibiotic resistance genes to other organisms.

Significant research has been conducted on the use of ultraviolet (UV) light to inactivate antibiotic resistance genes. UV can damage the genetic information in these genes; however, the dose of UV needed to do so may be impractical. Thus, UV treatment is combined with various oxidation methods. A new study led by Virender Sharma, PhD, professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, recently published in the journal Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering examined the effectiveness of different methods combining UV and oxidation techniques at eliminating antibiotic resistance genes in wastewater.

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