Thursday, 25 July 2013

Drug resistant bacterial terrorists worthy of alarm

Hat tip to Namraj for the education.

Maryn McKenna describes the rising alarm over our inability to stop infections by bacteria, because we have essentially run out of drugs to which they are sensitive. This is despite Doctors keeping in reserve the important drugs like carbapenems. But carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CREs) continue to spread, and kill.

Okay, so this is VDU - but viruses have a hand here too - one of the historic reasons behind overuse of antibiotics has been for  the (ineffective) treatment of  infections that were actually due to viruses-bad colds for example. Of course there are many other sources for antibiotics being flushed into the environment.

In on editorial in Nature, you can read of the rarity of new antibiotic discoveries in parallel with previous widespread use of antibiotics to aid growth of livestock.

And as we just spoke of bacteriophages earlier today...what ever happened to their use as bacteria-specific drugs? This was, and continues to be, a popular area of research in Eastern Europe according to the 2011 review by Harper and colleagues. Chemicals (antibiotic drugs) This overtook this area, as did regulatory and quality issues and the need for more comprehensive characterisation of them because some of the early work may have been rushed. 

Bacteriophage are looking like an ever more viable option in light of the growing crisis stories like those above highlight.

For example, there are recent papers describing the ability of bacteriophages to kill CREs including Klebsiella species - members of the Enterobacteriaceae. Recent phage success stories include killing of K. pneumoniae that mediate liver disease in mice and being superior to more traditional antimicrobials in treating burn wound infections in mice.

Oh, and Holmfeldt and colleagues just described the discovery of 12 new genera of phage comprising 31 phage from aquatic bacteria.

Time to get serious and turn the less conventional into conventional antibacterial options?