dglobalnews.com World Health Organization says new drugs urgently needed to fight superbugs
Published: Thu, March 02, 2017
Sports | By Jeannette Edwards

World Health Organization says new drugs urgently needed to fight superbugs

To address the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance, global health officials on Monday listed a dozen antibiotic-resistant "priority pathogens" that pose the greatest threats to human health. "If we leave it to market forces alone, the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time". The WHO is urging governments and pharmaceutical manufacturers around the world to put developing new drugs against these strains at the top of their lists.

The WHO list is divided into three categories - critical, high and medium - which are based on the bacteria's resistance to treatment, how commonplace they are, whether they can still be treated, and the toll they exact on the healthcare system. The bacteria listed as in need of urgent treatment solutions include Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii and Enterobacteriaceae which are resistant to multiple antibiotics and responsible for severe infections such as pneumonia and sepsis, mainly in hospitalised patients. Stopping the superbug onslaught also requires better efforts at communicating the role and use of antibiotics. What you're really doing is basically setting up a training camp for bacteria, helping them to adapt and breed descendants more resistant to antibiotics. However, what few new antibiotics have been worked on in recent years have typically been focussed on gram-positive bacteria.

The third tier includes medium priority antibiotics for Streptococcus pneumoniae, which is penicillin-non-susceptible; Haemophilus influenzae, which is ampicillin-resistant; and Shigella spp, which is fluoroquinolone-resistant. Tuberculosis was left off the list because the World Health Organization already issues separate reports warning of emerging drug resistance.

Pathogens in the high-priority category-which can cause hard-to-treat infections in healthy people but generally don't have a high mortality risk-include vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and fluoroquinolone-resistant Salmonella.

"It's not meant to scare people about new 'superbugs, '" WHO's Marie-Paule Kieny, assistant director-general of Health Systems and Innovation, told reporters during a press briefing. Meanwhile, the rate of antibiotic-resistant infections in children has shot up 700% since 2007, research released earlier this month shows. Most effective antibiotics are required and joint action is required on urgent basis.

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Dubbed as the "nightmare bacteria", Carbapenem Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) was discovered in patients at Melbourne's St Vincent's Hospital previous year. And resistant Enterobacteriaceae are an especially unsafe kind of superbug, because many of these bacteria are quickly learning to repel just about every drug we have available against them.

Among approximately 107,000 diagnoses of Enterobacteriaceae infections in the hospital records they examined, the researchers found 724 instances of multi-drug resistance.

World Health Organization has previously warned many antibiotics could become redundant this century, leaving patients exposed to deadly infections and threatening the future of medicine.

In addition, he said identifying carbapenem-resistant bacteria as the highest priority for research and development was "spot on".

Macquarie University Professor Dr Michael Gillings said it was just as important for Australians to stop over using antibiotics as it was to create new ones.

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