Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Swan song for antibiotics? Can phage therapy and gene editing fill the gap?

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It’s time to face the music: the golden age of antibiotics is over.

Humans have been in an endless war against bacteria — indeed it can kill us — and for decades antibiotics have been our only real weapon against them. They revolutionized medicine in the 20th century, and have together with vaccination led to the near eradication of many diseases in the developed world.

But despite their amazing success, and they’ve had a miracle like run, drug resistant superbugs like MRSA, CRE and VRE are slowly winning. Every year more and more people die from drug resistant infections as we inch closer back to the pre-penicillin days. Their effectiveness and easy access led to overuse, especially in live-stock raising, prompting bacteria to develop resistance. This led the World Health Organization last year to classify antimicrobial resistance as a “serious threat [that] is no longer a prediction for the future, it is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country”

There is a lot of blame to be shared for this reversal: doctors prescribing antimicrobials for the common cold, patients demanding the drugs for the flu, governments de-incentivizing the development of new antibiotics and pharmaceutical companies deeming unprofitable......To Read More.....

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