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Last updated on April 21, 2014 at 5:01 EDT

Antibiotic Crisis: Bad Bugs, Need Drugs

April 5, 2012

By Rhonda Craig, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) –Bad bugs need drugs. It´s more than a catchy slogan, this statement epitomizes the Infectious Disease Society of America´s (ISDA) push to get 10 new antibiotics developed by 2020.

For decades physicians have been using antibiotics to effectively treat patients with infectious diseases. However, these drugs have been used so widely and for so long that the infectious organisms the antibiotics are designed to kill have adapted to them, making the antibiotics less effective. People infected with antimicrobial-resistant organisms are more likely to have longer, more expensive hospital stays, and may be more likely to die as a result of the infection. More people now die of MRSA infection in US hospitals than of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis combined

We investigated the need for more effective antibiotics at the 43rd annual Topics in Internal Medicine Conference in Gainesville, Florida. In her presentation, Dr. Nicole Iovine explained the difference between new and novel antibiotics. For years developers have been making modifications to existing classes of antibiotics, in order to fight off drug-resistant bacteria. However research shows these classes of drugs are no longer effective. Iovine suggests instead of reaching for a new class of the same drug, a totally new molecular approach is needed.

“Since 2000 there have only been four antibiotics from a novel class that have been approved by the FDA. It´s important because there´s hope that with antibiotics from the novel class as opposed to the “me too” (new) antibiotics we may have more time for resistance emergence,” Nicole Iovine, M.D., Ph.D., Division of Infectious Diseases in Gainesville, FL said.

Infectious disease experts warn that new drugs are urgently needed to treat six drug-resistant bacteria that cause most hospital infections and increasingly escape the effects of antibiotics. The pathogens on the ISDA´s hit list are: Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumanii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacter species.

Several highly resistant gram-negative pathogens are emerging as in both the United States and other parts of the world. One such dangerous pathogen is Klebsiella pneumoniae Carbapenemase. It was first reported in North Carolina in 1996, and has since spread rapidly in the US and across the parts of the world. It has a high mortality rate. One-third of all K. pneumoniae cases are isolated in the NYC area.

Dr. Iovine says until more novel drugs make it into the pipeline, drugs that have spent years sitting on the shelves should be re-explored as a potential chemotherapeutic agent.

She adds that infection control and antimicrobial stewardship are key elements in preventing the spread of these dangerous strains of bacteria. Support for research into novel classes of antimicrobials is also urgently needed.

“Drug-resistant bacteria are a widespread, serious threat. We have nothing really novel in the pipeline right now the emergence of these pan-resistant bacteria will take us back to the 1900´s the pre-antibiotic era.” Dr. Iovine concluded.

SOURCES: 43rd Annual Topics in Internal Medicine Conference in Gainesville, Florida on March 29, 2012