antibiotic resistance

Unlike animals, bacteria can readily share genetic information with other bacteria, even those of entirely different species. Because of this, one clever microbiologist likened bacteria to smartphones and genes to apps. When bacteria share "apps" that encode antibiotic resistance, it poses trouble for humanity.

As individual bacterial strains are exposed to antibiotics, natural selection favors the survival of those that have mutated to become resistant. That hard-earned resistance can then be given to other bacteria. Microbiologists have long known of three major mechanisms by which this occurs: Transformation, transduction, and conjugation.

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When a patient enters a hospital or doctor's office with a cough, difficulty breathing, and chest discomfort/pain - physicians may be able to easily diagnose a lung infection. But, what is causing the infection is a different story. In fact, a physician may not be able to know - so, he or she is left to make their best guess. In this case, an antibiotic will most likely be prescribed (which is only effective against bacteria) regardless of what the cause of the infection really is.

That may not seem like a bad idea, but, prescribing an antibiotic for a viral infection is not only unnecessary - the over-prescription of antibiotics is one of the leading causes of antibiotic resistance....

I have repeatedly written about the vital need to stop one-size-fits-all approaches to complicated medical conditions and health policy as well as how important regional nuance is to solving these and more issues like healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Identifying the unique interactions, behaviors and exposures of a community drives the en vogue "population health" trend from a patient perspective while optimizing the culture, complexity and effectiveness of local institutions and personnel.

So, when I recently attended the Committee on Reducing Infection...

This morning I attended an event organized by the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths (RID) at the Harvard Club of New York.

RID's Chairman and Founder as well as former Lt. Governor of New York State Betsy McCaughey, Ph.D. hosted the forum entitled, "CRE and Other High-Mortality Superbugs: How to keep care in our hospitals and nursing homes safe." CRE stands for Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae and the emphasis of the presentations and roundtable discussion surrounded CRE and multi-drug resistant organisms (MDROs), in general.

A pool of public health leaders present reflected diverse perspectives on how the complex task of preventing healthcare-associated infections (HAI) needs to be approached. The scope of the...

Of the multitude of problems associated with developing new antibiotics, finding a way to provide financial incentives to companies doing the research is especially crucial. This is because antibiotics are not used like other drugs. Unlike a statin, which will be taken for life, they are used for a limited period of time. And they will not be "thrown around" as were the dozens of oral antibiotics that once came routinely from the pharmaceutical industry. We have learned this lesson the hard way. New classes of antibiotics will be controlled carefully, and be used mostly in hospitals. So, there is now little incentive for any company to remain in, or reenter the field, knowing that it will either make little money (or more likely, lose it) even if they come up with a successful drug....

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,...