antibiotic resistance

Even with the advent of the antibiotic era, infectious diseases are a global health concern. In part, disparate public health infrastructures, barriers to accessing medical care and regions with poor sanitation can be contributing factors. But, another worrisome trend that could represent a huge step back in medical advancement is the surge in antibiotic resistance. Should this pattern continue, many treatments that rely on antibiotics to eliminate harmful bacteria could become inviable options.

Efforts to educate the public on appropriate antibiotic use and to curtail overprescribing, in general, are already underway. The challenge...

 I have been writing for years (1) about the emergence and spread of bacteria that are resistant to virtually all antibiotics, and that it was only a matter of time until they reached the US. Time's up. They are here. 

Perhaps the scariest of the bunch is carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), which will kill about half the people who contract it. The chemical structures of amoxicillin, a member of the penicillin class and imipenem. a member of the carbapenem class are shown in Figure 1. Both classes are naturally-...

Recently, I had the pleasure of filming a segment on the top medical, science and technology innovations of 2017 at Reuters TV in Times Square, New York with host of CCTV Bianca Chen.

Here, I discuss the remaining developments on the list, having addressed the top 4 in Top 8 Medical & Tech Innovations of 2017 (click here). And, make my prediction for what innovation could be truly disruptive in the future.

It was a very exciting year in the pursuit of the once impossible when it comes to medical developments. Here are some top picks that truly are changing the landscape:

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Those of us who are intent on eating only as nature intended apparently want to extend that prescription to our pets. Thus, on my latest venture to my local pet food purveyor, I found a freezer full of all-natural frozen, raw meat products, designed to be fed to cats and dogs. You can feed them beef, lamb, rabbit, turkey or chicken, whichever your pampered darling prefers. This latest venture in non-cooked provisions supposedly is good for our domesticated carnivores, allowing them to eat as nature intended, although nature doesn't provide a cute feeding dish stenciled with the pet's name. What could be wrong with this picture?  No, it's not the nutritional composition — it's what else might be in the raw food — antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Dr. Joost Hordijk from Utrecht...

Of all the problems we don't need, an increase in bacterial resistance to antibiotics is near the top of the list. This is the primary reason that prompted countries in Europe to take action five years ago that would limit the improper use of antibiotics in livestock and pets. The plan is working better than expected. 

A recent report from the European Medical Agency noted that the sale of antibiotics for animal use in Europe between 2011 and 2015 decreased by 13%. But some countries did much better. For example, in France, antibiotic use...

Bacteria that are resistant to one, multiple or even all known antibiotics, commonly known as superbugs, are one of the leading concerns in the medical and scientific communities. 

With the traditional methods of combating bacterial infections not working - alternative ways to stop the infections from starting or, at least, from spreading - are necessary. This would mean cutting down on the number of infections and because many of these infections are nosocomial (acquired while someone is staying in the hospital) spread through the use of contaminated instruments - clean instruments are an imperative first step to stop the bacteria's spread. 

But, many medical devices are incredibly difficult to clean well enough to stop the spread of bacteria. They may have hard to reach...

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...