antibiotic resistance

Two decades after new antibiotic research came to a screeching halt, we find ourselves in a gigantic mess. Hardly a day goes by without a news story about "superbugs"—multi-drug resistant bacteria, and how difficult it is to kill them.

This will only get worse. Bacterial resistance is a one-way street. Once an antibiotic stops working against a particular pathogen, it will not work again. 

But, thanks to an unexpected observation, finding new antibiotics may be a whole lot easier, because, in a Nature paper, chemist Michele Richter and colleagues at the University of Illinois tell us what to look at and what to avoid. This one is mighty strange, but it could also be exceedingly...

Antibiotic resistance is an ongoing problem. Strike that - an ongoing crisis. Although the reasons are varied and many, we know that more usage results in more resistance.

There are massive efforts going on in medical centers all over the country to try to minimize the needless overprescription of antibiotics. We highlighted one of these efforts last year. But, are they working? 

Unfortunately, not well enough. A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) in Canada finds that there are still many unnecessary antibiotics being prescribed. In fact, one in two...

When it comes to finding new antibiotics, no place is too weird to look.

Last week, we reported that two species of fungi, both isolated from an acidic, metal-rich lake, cooperate to synthesize an antibiotic that neither produces when grown alone. Now, three separate teams of researchers have identified potentially useful antibiotics from some of the strangest places imaginable: Sponges, sea snails, and marine worms. All reports were published in the Journal of Natural Products.

In the first study, a team of mostly Japanese scientists isolated a compound called Zamamidine D from a sponge named Amphimedon. The compound displayed...

In the battle against antibiotic resistance, here's an interesting proposal: salted doorknobs [in hospitals, or elsewhere] could fight super bug infections. Intrigued? So are we. Bummed you didn't think of it first? So are we.

The World Health Organization released their first ever report on the antibiotic resistant bacteria that are of the greatest global concern - the global priority pathogens list (global PPL).

The report was compiled by eight leading international experts in infectious disease, clinical microbiology, R&D, public health and infection control.  The team used both expert opinion and evidence-based data to choose the twelve most concerning antibiotic resistant bacteria. They also implemented a three-tiered ranking system, placing the bacteria into either 'critical', 'high' or 'medium' priority rankings. These classifications were based on several characteristics,...

Airport bathroom

International travel is not always a pleasant experience. Cramped airplanes with crying babies, ridiculous and arbitrary regulations, long lines, and overpriced food contribute to the general grumpiness and anxiety that many travelers feel. Despite this, a German scientist hunting for data on antimicrobial resistance patterns decided to push his research team just a little bit further. 

The conversation probably went something like this:

RESEARCHER: I'm leaving on holiday soon.
BOSS: Lovely. Where are you going?
BOSS: Excellent choice. Where are you stopping?
RESEARCHER: I've got layovers in Munich and London.
BOSS: Perfect. Say, while you're out there, would you mind swabbing a few bathroom door handles for me?*

Credit: Shutterstock

With antibiotic resistance a growing threat, scientists are on the hunt for new ways to treat bacterial infections. One of these, called phage therapy, uses a special kind of virus that only infects and kills bacteria. (These viruses are called "bacteriophage" or simply "phage.")

The original idea for this therapy is actually quite old. It was pioneered by Félix d'Herelle in the 1920s (and is still used in Eastern Europe today) but it fell mostly out of favor with the advent of antibiotics like penicillin. However, with antibiotics becoming less effective today, scientists are increasingly turning to unconventional treatments.

Acinetobacter baumanii, often referred to as "Iraqibacter", gained notoriety in recent years due to its causing wound infections in...

shutterstock_304789835 Bacteria via Shutterstock

The fact that many species of bacteria are becoming resistant to our most widely used antibiotics is a matter of increasing concern to physicians and public health officials alike. According to the CDC, "Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections." The organization also...

The mcr-1 plasmid-borne colistin resistance gene has been found primarily in Escherichia coli, pictured. REUTERS/Courtesy CDC The mcr-1 plasmid-borne colistin resistance gene has been found primarily in Escherichia coli, pictured. REUTERS/Courtesy CDC

We heard last week what we've been dreading, but anticipating – the emergence of polymyxin resistance for the first time in the United States. Polymyxins are a class of antibiotics that include the drugs colistin and polymyxin B. Although these...

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 12.50.01 PMDr. David Shlaes, my former colleague at Wyeth, is one of the world's premier experts in antibiotic research and development. Dr. Shlaes is also an advisor at the American Council on Science and Health. He and I have co-written a piece titled "Stop Giving Antibiotics to Cows, Pigs, and Chickens Now," that...