Singapore researchers ID path for predicting drug resistance

Scientists at Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research's (A*STAR) Institute of Medical Biology and Singapore Immunology Network said they have identified a new way to ID and evaluate genes for cell survival and the finding may help researchers determine how cells develop resistance to drugs. The issue is one of critical importance in today's modern world where the overuse of antibiotics in animals and humans has led to multiresistant forms of diseases that threaten the world and could render modern antibiotics useless. The researchers in Singapore say they have "redefined" the concept of "gene essentiality" and discovered that genes can not only be divided into nonessential and essential, but also into categories of "non-evolvable" essential genes and genes that cells can survive without mutating. These "evolvable" genes were able to adapt rapidly because they mutate to change the number of chromosomes, which alters the "relative balance" of genes in the genome that allows them to perform the functions of missing genes. The scientists said this explains why some chemo-resistant cancer cells, drug-resistant fungi and parasites often have extra chromosomes. The scientists said their finding will allow drug developers to predict drug resistance. Report