Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Genetics
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: October 27, 2011
Publication Date: N/A
Drug resistance refers to both intrinsic and acquired abilities of cells or organisms to become insensitive or refractory to chemotherapeutic intervention. The advent of antibiotics is considered one of the most important medicinal developments in human history, which has led to significantly reduced mortality, prolonged life spans, and increased quality of life. Paradoxically, antibiotic resistance has been identified as one of the greatest threats to human health, contributing to the resurgence of many diseases. The development of drug resistance results from molecular changes to the pathogen such as mutation, selective pressures, and increased transmission. The rate of drug resistance is rising globally, leading to severe economic and health consequences. One of the contributing factors to this alarmingly rising trend is the indiscriminate and inappropriate use of antibiotics, either in hospitals and clinics to treat human and animal diseases or in agricultural production systems. Drug resistance extends much further than just antibiotics; treatments for viral, parasitic, and fungal infections, as well as cancerous tumors have been adversely affected by the emergence of resistant strains and cells. In this chapter, we examined various molecular mechanisms of drug resistance in cells and organisms ranging from viruses to parasites. We also discussed economical and health consequences of drug resistance as well as its impact on agriculture.