Research not keeping up with bacteria

Jan 21, 2008

Harmful bacteria are evolving faster than scientists can develop antibiotics to fight them, U.S. researchers say.

Over-prescription of antibiotics, interbreeding of strains in the fertile environment of hospitals and use of the drugs in the production of livestock are all leading to resistant strains of bacteria, and the pipeline for new antibiotics has nearly run dry, The San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday.

Only five new antibiotics have been approved in the last five years, compared to the early 1980's when 16 new treatments were in development, the newspaper said. The drop-off is mainly because drug companies are dropping out of the market, in favor of more lucrative drugs that must be taken for years or decades.

The lack of effective drugs is taking a toll, the Chronicle reported. About 99,000 Americans die each year from bacterial infections acquired in hospitals, and powerful strains like MRSA have made their way out of institutions and into the public at large -- most recently seen in a spate of outbreaks at schools.

To fix the problem, some experts -- like Dr. Louis Rice at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland -- have proposed taxing drug companies that do not work on antibiotics to support research at companies that do.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Explore further: Travel restrictions could worsen Ebola crisis: experts

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Advancing medicine, layer by layer

Jul 02, 2014

Personalized cancer treatments and better bone implants could grow from techniques demonstrated by graduate students Stephen W. Morton and Nisarg J. Shah, who are both working in chemical engineering professor ...

Recommended for you

Travel restrictions could worsen Ebola crisis: experts

4 hours ago

Travel restrictions could worsen West Africa's Ebola epidemic, limiting medical and food supplies and keeping out much-needed doctors, virologists said Tuesday as the disease continued its deadly spread.

World 'losing battle' to contain Ebola: MSF (Update)

5 hours ago

International medical agency Medecins sans Frontieres said Tuesday the world was "losing the battle" to contain Ebola as the United Nations warned of severe food shortages in the hardest-hit countries.

Mutating Ebola viruses not as scary as evolving ones

5 hours ago

My social media accounts today are cluttered with stories about "mutating" Ebola viruses. The usually excellent ScienceAlert, for example, rather breathlessly informs us "The Ebola virus is mutating faster in humans than in animal hosts ...

War between bacteria and phages benefits humans

6 hours ago

In the battle between our immune systems and cholera bacteria, humans may have an unknown ally in bacteria-killing viruses known as phages. In a new study, researchers from Tufts University, Massachusetts ...

Ebola kills 31 people in DR Congo: WHO

8 hours ago

An outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo has killed 31 people and the epidemic remains contained in a remote northwestern region, UN the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

bmcghie
not rated yet Jan 21, 2008
tax drug companies for NOT doing research in certain areas?! That's the stupidest idea I've ever heard! What is the next step after that one? Fine all the companies not doing research on cancer fighting drugs? On immunosuppressant drugs? On erectile difficulty drugs? On painkillers?
Please... somebody shut that man up. Drug companies go where the money is. Apparently, antibiotics are NOT where the money is. That's the price you pay for living in a capitalist country.