Mitigation Strategies for Antibiotic Resistance
The World Health Organisation warnsthat we are facing a post-antibiotics era in which diseases commonly and effectively treated by antibiotics could become untreatable and deadly. Common conditions such as urinary tract infections and infected wounds (from accidents or surgery) will become risky. There are already 9 known superbug strains and more are emerging. Elective surgery and cancer treatments will become too risky to perform. In order to understand what we can do to delay or even avoid this future, we first need to look at what forces are driving it.
Economics The lack in an economic incentive to develop new antibiotics means that the last new antibiotics were released in the 1980s. Without economic incentive, pharmaceutical manufacturers will not invest the billions of dollars needed for research and testing.
Genetics Antibiotic resistance is caused by genes in the bacterial DNA. Many genes, through a variety of biochemical pathways, give resistance to each antibiotic drug. Horizontal gene transfer between bacterial cells means that adaptation to environments rich with environments creates microbial ecosystems with high levels of resistance.
Overuse Doctors that prescribe antibiotics for viral infections and patients who demand them, are putting patients at risk. Patients are also exposed to antibiotics unnecessarily through misdiagnosis, unnecessary surgery and unnecessary visits to healthcare facilities.
Given the economic constrains, and the “no new antibiotics” reality, resources are required to educate the population on overuse and how to mitigate it, and analytics tools to monitor the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance genes.