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Earth Medicine Science

Resistance To Antibiotics Found In Isolated Amazonian Tribe 53

sciencehabit writes When scientists first made contact with an isolated village of Yanomami hunter-gatherers in the remote mountains of the Amazon jungle of Venezuela in 2009, they marveled at the chance to study the health of people who had never been exposed to Western medicine or diets. But much to their surprise, these Yanomami's gut bacteria have already evolved a diverse array of antibiotic-resistance genes, according to a new study, even though these mountain people had never ingested antibiotics or animals raised with drugs. The find suggests that microbes have long evolved the capability to fight toxins, including antibiotics, and that preventing drug resistance may be harder than scientists thought.
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Resistance To Antibiotics Found In Isolated Amazonian Tribe

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    On first contact they asked for faeces samples.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Hi we are from a far more advanced civilisation, would you mind pooping into this jar?

  • I imagine industrialized societies are getting weaker as well. []

  • I think it's more likely that the antibiotic resistance microbes found their way in from the ecosystem polluted by the even distant civilization rather than "developed" spontaneously on their own (though that's obviously possible)

    If we're to believe that climate change is a worldwide phenomenon caused by concentrated/isolated pollution sources it's not that farfetched to believe there's a similar mechanism for antibiotic resistant bacteria developed in a "civilized" area to find its way to uncivilized areas

  • "Prevent"? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ignacio ( 1465 ) on Saturday April 18, 2015 @01:48PM (#49500801)

    Why do people believe that preventing drug resistance is still possible? You can only switch to a drug they aren't resistant to yet, or to whose resistance they have lost.

    • by itzly ( 3699663 )

      You can slow down the rate at which bacteria become resistant.

      • No, you can't. People assert this constantly by stating evolutionary pressure propagates drug resistant bacteria but that is by far not the leading cause.

        Bacteria are more like a city of people and less like a field of crops. When a new type of bacteria joins a location, it tries to talk to all of the bacteria around it (even outside it's species) using chemical triggers or even electrical pulses. When one type of bacteria is having troubles, either by not getting what it needs to survive or being attack
    • by Anonymous Coward

      If we quit indiscriminately immersing our world in antibiotics, we won't be so strongly selecting for these resistances.

  • Not completely new: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hartree ( 191324 ) on Saturday April 18, 2015 @01:50PM (#49500805)

    This is more confirmation, but it has already been known in the microbiology community for some time.

    Many of the genes that contribute to antibiotic resistance are far older than human use of antibiotics.

    How can that be? A couple ways. Mom Nature has been playing the antibiotic game for a very long time. Most of our antibiotics come from antibiotic producing organisms in nature (penicillin for example). The countermeasures have long been out there, but only in a small percentage of the bacteria out there, since there is a small cost to maintaining any given gene. When there is a big exposure to a particular antibiotic, the resistance genes spread through the bacterial community and become common, as we often see nowadays.

    The other source is that an enzyme that is used for some other purpose may well have some ability to protect against an antibiotic. An example would be a transporter molecule for some substance other than the antibiotic to be pumped out of the cell that is close enough to sometimes pump out the antibiotic. There would then be strong pressure for the bacteria to make more of that transporter protein when the antibiotic is around. Nature is good at using something it already has for a new purpose.

    That's one of the reasons antibiotic resistance is such a problem. Mother Nature has been playing this game a very long time and frankly is better at it than we are.

  • It's almost as if the microbes we get antibiotics from have been around for millions of years...

  • I seem to remember a National Geographic issue circa 1980 that was featuring Yanomami.

    The last actually isolated tribe that I am aware of was in the New Guinea highlands back in the 30s. The rest have had more or less direct contact with civilization. Do you really think they were never visited by a missionary? Have you ever met one of those people?

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      I recall an article a few years back about one of those Amazonian tribes that wanted nothing to do with western civilization. There was a photo of a couple of tribesmen wearing New York Knicks tee shirts and a few Tupperware containers visible near the cooking fire.

    • Do you really think they were never visited by a missionary?

      Missionary? More likely "Missionary Style"! What is the first thing that they do, when an advanced culture meets a primitive culture? They mutually exchange sexually transmitted diseases!

      Who knows? Maybe the villagers were visited by some folks, who didn't want to tell the government where they were, and what they were up to? Like, drug dealers, illegal good miners or illegal loggers?

      Or how about contamination that occurred during the testing? People working with Ebola patients were supposed to how

      • by HBI ( 604924 )

        It's easier to get laid on CL than in the Amazonian jungle...the missionaries have a good reason to go out there.

  • by CODiNE ( 27417 ) on Saturday April 18, 2015 @02:11PM (#49500917) Homepage

    I'm assuming these people, isolated though they were, did not drink water or feed from animals exposed to water tainted with anti-biotic runoff?

    You could grow up on an undiscovered island and still have ingested plastics. The smoke doesn't always stay on its side of the restaurant.

  • Or maybe (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Livius ( 318358 ) on Saturday April 18, 2015 @03:31PM (#49501159)

    Their environment has some awesome naturally-occurring antibiotic that the local bacteria have had to develop resistance to, and we might want to learn more about that.

  • Studies (well okay, movies) have proven that bacteria from other planets and other outer space sources are even worse than remotely evolved ones on Earth.

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this-- no dog exchanges bones with another. -- Adam Smith