Advances in antimicrobial research February 2019 Cover story
- Post By : Kumar Jeetendra
- Source: Microbioz India : February 2019 edition
- Date: 25 Mar,2019
Following the introduction of penicillin in the 1940s antimicrobial medicines have become an essential tool for combatting microbial infections in humans and animals. Antimicrobials are necessary for preventing infections and reducing the risk of potentially life threatening complications during surgery. However, the act of using antimicrobials fuels antimicrobial resistance. Each time a single antibiotic is prescribed (or disposed into the environment), then it serves as an opportunity for bacteria to learn and adapt. Hence, resistance to antibiotics isinevitable. The current issue is with the rate at which this happens.
In the last two decades, the rate at which bacteria are becoming resistant to current antibiotic treatments has substantially increased. Antibiotic resistance is a form of drug resistance whereby some sub-populations of a microorganism are able to survive after exposure to one or more antibiotics. One of the triggers for this is due to the overuse of use medicines, as arises from mis-prescribing or the use of antibiotics with farm animals.
This trend is threatening the ability of medical staff to carry out routine operations or transplants in the future, or for medics to treat patients. This has been compounded not only by microorganisms that are resistant to one antimicrobial or another, but due to the rise of multi-drug resistant microorganisms (the so-termed ‘super bugs’). Prominent examples include MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), VISA (vancomycin-intermediate S. aureus), VRSA (vancomycin-resistant S. aureus), ESBL (Extended spectrum beta-lactamase), VRE (vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus) and MRAB (multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii) (1).
An example of the problem of antimicrobial resistance is with the disease gonorrhoea, where rates of antimicrobial resistant strains of Neisseria gonorrhoeaehave been increasing, according to the World Health Organization (2). The United Nations health body warns that, as things stand today, if someone contracts gonorrhea, it is now much harder to treat, and in some cases treatment is impossible. This is because the sexually transmitted infection is rapidly developing resistance to all antibiotics. An estimated 78 million people are infected with gonorrhea each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (3). As well as discomfort the disease can cause infertility.
These issues have placed renewed focus on the need to develop new antimicrobials and new methods for treating patients with bacterial infections. The current state of the antibiotic market is troubling. Funding is scarce, big pharmaceutical companies are shuttering their research and development programs and much of the burden is being left to smaller companies with fewer resources, or the initiatives are coming from government-backed programmes in academia