The Search for New Antibiotics

Stephanie Shaw July 10, 2012

The Search for New AntibioticsThe World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that although 20% of deaths worldwide are the result of bacterial infections, soon the number will grow as bacteria develop resistance against current antibiotics.

This announcement was made in 2011 and, as 2013 quickly approaches, the reality is setting in.

The bacteria that are primarily responsible for causing pneumonia, meningitis, toxic shock syndrome (TSS), sepsis, and other diarrheal diseases have mutated into some strains that are impenetrable by current antibiotics.

Representatives from pharmaceutical companies have warned against even the smallest of infections becoming fatal.

There are several causes for this rapid mutation, and many have to do with the overuse or misuse of antibiotics. Bacteria naturally build up defenses overtime, so by overusing antibiotics one is speeding up this evolutionary process.

Studies in Indonesia discovered that doctors are prescribing antibiotics for four out of every five children’s respiratory and stomach illnesses, including those caused by viruses which cannot be treated by antibiotics.

Research for finding alternate antibiotics is underfunded worldwide, mainly because it is so difficult to find an antibiotic that treats multiple illnesses as opposed to a vaccine that prevents instead of treats.

Antibiotics also offer low profits because they are used so little in order to prevent mutation of the bacteria. The recent changes in the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have left pharmaceutical companies at a loss as to how to pass clinical trials.

Though the situation seems grim, there are measures being taken to combat this issue. The US has drafted the Generating Antibiotic Initiatives Now (GAIN) Act and the European Union (EU) has started a private-public partnership to increase research and spread knowledge about the proper use of antibiotics.

Last Edited by: Updated: February 25, 2014


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