China on the verge of a widespread superbug pandemic thanks to spreading MCR-1 gene

A gene that confers resistance to colistin, the “antibiotic of last resort,” is alarmingly widespread in China, according to two separate studies published in The Lancet on January 27.

The drug-resistance gene in question, MCR-1 was first identified in China in 2015, in Escherichia coli (more commonly known as E. coli) bacteria in pigs, pork, and a handful of human patients. Since then, the gene has turned up in 30 other countries, including the United States. It renders bacteria immune to one of the few antibiotics that can still be used against multidrug resistant superbugs.