Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


PolyU discovers a newly emerged superbug


The Partner State Key Laboratory of Chirosciences at the Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology (ABCT) of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) discovered a newly emerged superbug, hyper-resistant and hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae, which may cause untreatable and fatal infections in relatively healthy individuals and will pose enormous threat to human health.

Prof. Chen Sheng, Professor of ABCT, collaborating with Prof. Rong Zhang from the Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University, conducted an investigation into a fatal outbreak of pneumonia in the Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University in China in February 2016. The study involved five patients who underwent surgical operation for multiple-trauma.

Professor Chen Sheng, Professor of PolyU's Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology, discovered a newly emerged superbug, hyper-resistant and hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae.

Credit: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

All of them were later infected in the intensive care unit (ICU) and developed severe pneumonia, and eventually died of septicaemia and multiple organ failure. The causative agent of these five patients was found to be a carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae (CRKP) strain, a type of previously-defined superbug.

Furthermore, these CRKP strains are also hypervirulent and belong to ST11 type of CRKP, the most prevalent and transmissible CRKP strains in Asia. As these strains simultaneously exhibit the features of hyper-resistance, hypervirulence and high transmissibility, they can be considered a real superbug known as ST11 CR-HvKP (ST11 carbapenem-resistant hypervirulent K. pneumoniae).

ST11 K. pneumoniae strains proliferate in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) of human and animals and may cause opportunistic infections such as pneumonia in clinical settings. These strains, after acquiring plasmid encoding a carbapenemase gene, become resistant to the carbapenem antibiotics and caused untreatable or hard-to-be treated infections, therefore defined as superbug.

These superbug strains could further evolve to become ST11 CR-HvKP through acquisition of the hypervirulence plasmids. The ST11 CR-HvKP strains do not only infect lungs and cause pneumonia, but also invade the bloodstream and other internal organs. Due to its hypervirulence and phenotypic resistance to commonly used antibiotics, ST11 CR-HvKP strains may cause untreatable and fatal infections in relatively healthy individuals with normal immunity.

ST11 CR-HvKP strains possess a mucoid outer layer, which enables them to stick to various materials, such as the surface of medical devices and tubing as well as other surfaces in the ICU. The transmission route is not clear yet, but our data suggest that medical equipment such as ventilator and different catheters might be transmitting these new superbug strains. Human-to-human transmission may also be possible, mainly in hospital settings.

Improved infection prevention and control policy in hospital seems to be effective to control further transmission of this superbug in the ICU. Novel strategies must be devised to prevent ST11 CR-HvKP from proliferating extensively in the human intestinal tract where they were detected. ST11 CR-HvKP can easily be detectable by the Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method, targeting specific resistance and virulence genes.

The study showed that the use of colistin (the last resort drug for carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae infections) alone or in combination with other drugs were not very effective in treating infections caused by ST11 CR-HvKP. Ceftazidime/avibactam may be the effective antibiotic, but ST11 CR-HvKP may develop resistance to this antibiotic very quickly based on the clinical data from the USA.

Prevalence of ST11 CR-HvKP strains in Hong Kong is currently unknown. Two studies conducted in Hong Kong have shown that mortality rate due to K. pneumoniae-mediated bloodstream infections was high, reaching 20% and 32% respectively. We plan to collaborate with clinicians in local hospitals to investigate the proportion of clinical K. pneumoniae isolates that belong to HvKP or CR-HvKP, and characterize their genetic features.

This study is recently published in the prestigious academic journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases. The full article can be accessed via the link:

Media Contact

Christina Wu

Christina Wu | EurekAlert!

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Scientists develop tiny tooth-mounted sensors that can track what you eat
22.03.2018 | Tufts University

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Don't Give the Slightest Chance to Toxic Elements in Medicinal Products

23.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Sensitive grip

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

No compromises: Combining the benefits of 3D printing and casting

23.03.2018 | Process Engineering

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>