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American Academy of Microbiology releases resistance report
Date:3/7/2013

What do cancer cells, weeds, and pathogens have in common? They all evolve resistance to the treatments that are supposed to eliminate them. However, researchers developing the next generation of antibiotics, herbicides, and anti-cancer therapeutics rarely come together to explore the common evolutionary principles at work across their different biological systems. The new American Academy of Microbiology report "Moving Targets: Fighting Resistance in Infections, Pests, and Cancer" concludes that scientists working on different kinds of treatments have much to learn from each other. Applying lessons learned about the evolution of resistance in different biological systems during the earliest stages of drug and pesticide design could lead to more effective treatments for patients, farmers, and public health organizations.

Do you think the oncologists at a cutting-edge research hospital ever sit down with local farmers? Do you think the pharmaceutical researchers developing the next generation of anti-HIV drugs spend any time with the plant scientists working on the next generation of Roundup Ready soybeans? If your answer to both questions is no, you would be mostly right. Even though all of these people are dealing with exactly the same evolutionary phenomena, they do not recognize themselves as a single scientific community and rarely get a chance to learn from each other. What they all have in common is that they are trying to eliminate an unwanted living entity but the treatments they develop eventually lose effectiveness because the target evolves resistance.

The emergence of resistance is a phenomenon with ancient evolutionary roots, although the human role in triggering resistance was little appreciated before the advent of widespread antibiotic and pesticide use in the 1950s. In Silent Spring, the prescient Rachel Carson wrote in 1962 that "by their very nature chemical controls are self-defeating, for they have been devised and app
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Contact: Garth Hogan
ghogan@asmusa.org
202-942-9389
American Society for Microbiology
Source:Eurekalert

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