"A deadly outbreak of antibiotic-resistant bacteria last year at the Clinical Research Center of the National Institutes of Health offers a fascinating and frightening window on the future of medicine. Fascinating because scientists used whole-genome sequencing to obtain a fine-grained blueprint of the genetic material in the bacteria and to track how it spread. Frightening because the bacteria, resistant to multiple antibiotics, defied efforts to control it in the 234-bed hospital in Bethesda."
"The outbreak also calls attention to the deepening problem known as antimicrobial resistance, particularly in hospitals. As bacteria evolve, they develop resistance to antibiotics. In this case, the germ was highly resistant to multiple drugs, leaving doctors with no effective therapeutic options for some people. The superbug was tenacious, surviving in sink drains and on a ventilator that had been thoroughly cleaned.
The rise of antimicrobial resistance is a public-health crisis. Many first-line antibiotics are losing their efficacy, and the pipeline of new compounds is drying up. Pharmaceutical companies are leaving the market, unwilling to make the sizable investments in research and development required for new drugs. The story of the outbreak at the NIH is a strong reminder of the need for judicious use of existing antibiotics and for a fresh drive to create and win regulatory approval of effective new drugs."
- Date added:
- Aug 24, 2012