Testing new antibiotics to treat highly resistant bacterial infections is especially difficult, since only a small number of patients contract such infections or meet the requirements to participate in clinical trials. Following are examples of hard-to-treat pathogens that present the greatest unmet needs today, and the types of drugs that are most likely to address them.More info
Since Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom began, many American servicemen and women have been infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.¹ While our men and women in uniform increasingly survive severe wounds sustained in combat, their injuries leave them susceptible to life-threatening, hard-to-treat infections. Marine Lance Corporal Jonathan Gadsden’s story reflects the growing need for new antibiotics that can treat these dangerous diseases, against which most drugs are useless.
Twenty-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Jonathan Gadsden was seriously wounded on August 21, 2004, after a homemade bomb exploded under his Humvee in Anbar Province, Iraq.²
Cpl. Gadsden was treated on the scene by combat medics and then airlifted to a military hospital in a former health care facility in Baghdad. Surgeons repaired wounds to his cranium, removed his spleen, and administered powerful antibiotics to ward off potential infections. Once stable, Cpl. Gadsden was transferred to an American military hospital in Germany and then to the National Naval Medical Center in Maryland, where he tested positive for a variety of pathogens, including Acinetobacter baumannii, Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas, Klebsiella, and Enterobacter — most of which are commonly multidrug-resistant.
By September, he seemed to be on the road to recovery. Cpl. Gadsden was able to breathe without a ventilator and move about with a walker. When he was transferred to the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Florida, his new doctors told his mother, Zeada Gadsden, that her son might be able to return home to South Carolina by the end of October.
But in early October, after finishing his prescribed course of antibiotics, Cpl. Gadsden began to exhibit symptoms as if an infection was present. When testing showed he had a urinary tract infection, doctors administered more antibiotics. His condition initially improved, but by October 17 he began to deteriorate.
Three days later, he had a seizure and went into cardiac arrest. Even though Cpl. Gadsden was given a number of antibiotics—at least four different classes—they proved insufficient. He died on October 22, 2004.
Cpl. Gadsden’s death demonstrates the great and growing threat of infections that are difficult, and sometimes impossible, to treat, complicating the care of our combat-injured military personnel.³
Mrs. Gadsden laments that the doctors ran out of options to treat her son’s illness. “If so many guys are suffering from multidrug-resistant infections, then we need to come up with something,” she said.
- Date added:
- Aug 16, 2012
2. J. D. Daigh, "Healthcare Inspection: Review of Quality of Care, Department of Veterans Affairs, James A. Haley Medical Center,Tampa, Florida," ed. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (Washington, DC 2005).
3. D. R. Hospenthal et al., "Multidrug-resistant bacterial colonization of combat-injured personnel at admission to medical centers after evacuation from Afghanistan and Iraq," Journal of Trauma a nd Acute Care Surgery 71, no. 1 Suppl (2011).
The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology held a public meeting on April 4 to discuss the issue of antimicrobial resistance. Drug safety and innovation director Elizabeth Jungman testified on the need to spur the development of new antibacterial drugs.More info
Drug-resistant bacteria, or superbugs, present a serious and worsening threat to human health. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, 2 million Americans acquire serious infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and 23,000 of them die. Doctors routinely encounter patients with infections that do not respond to available treatment, and when new drugs come to market, bacteria quickly develop resistance. To ensure that the supply of new antibiotics keeps pace with these evolving pathogens, it is necessary to have a robust pipeline of new drugs and innovative pathways to get this medicine to the patients who need it the mostMore info
The process of creating new medicines is complex, time-consuming, and costly. Moving a potential therapy from concept to market can take between 10 and 15 years and cost developers as much as $1 billion. Indeed, industry also bears the cost of failure: For every drug that ultimately receives approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, some 5,000 to 10,000 compounds don’t make it through the process.More info