Sweeping up the superbugs

Healthcare professionals have long known that the launch of a new antibiotic drug is inevitably followed by the emergence of resistant bacterial strains due to the trading of genes between the microbes. The process is relatively straightforward: bacteria exchange clusters of drug-resistance genes which are carried on plasmids (small circles of DNA); these then replicate themselves independently of the bacterial chromosome.
Such awareness has been accompanied by routine bouts of alarm in the mass media