July 24, 2017

World Health Organization says new antibiotics needed to fight 12 supergerms

02 March 2017, 12:43 | Simon Arnold

In a world awash in antibiotics, unsafe infections are getting even harder to fight. 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.

For the first time ever, the World Health Organisation has published a list of the 12 superbugs that pose the greatest threat to human health.

World Health Organization said the list is meant to spur governments to put in place policies that incentivise basic and advanced research and development.

The WHO also point out that new drugs on their own will not solve the problem of antimicrobial resistance.

"Antibiotic resistance is growing, and we are fast running out of treatment options", Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO's assistant director-general for health systems and innovation, said in a statement. As infections reach alarming proportions, creating new antibiotics to urgently address the need for treatment of such diseases should be developed as early as possible.

Topping the list were bacteria classed as "gram negative" bacteria, which have already shown resistance to multiple drugs. They can cause deadly infections such as bloodstream infections and pneumonia. Many hospitals have also taken part in a programme to control infections. Because the MDR infection count relied on diagnostic codes and billing claims from health care records, rather than blood samples or other biological data, the total may be inaccurate, says Michael Smith, who specializes in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Louisville School of Medicine.

They're also far more hard and expensive to study compared to "gram-positive bacteria", which tend to affect the nose and skin of a healthy individual.

At the end of the day, no matter how much effort is poured into discovering new treatments, that's not going to solve things by itself.

The WHO said numerous bacteria have evolved into superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics.

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The list is divided into three categories of priority: critical, high and medium.

WHO's "priority pathogens" listPriority 1: Critical1.

One of the main types of multi-resistant organisms found in Australia are the bugs that cause staph infections, which can be found both in hospitals and in the community.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa: These bacteria are also resistant to carbapenems. Staphylococcus aureus, methicillin-resistant, vancomycin-intermediate and resistant 6.

Helicobacter pylori, clarithromycin-resistant: This bacteria can literally give you ulcers and potentially stomach cancer, living in your stomach. Campylobacter spp., fluoroquinolone-resistant 8.

Priority 2: High 4. This group includes Streptococcus pneumoniae that is not susceptible to penicillin. It is resistant to ampicillin. That includes carbapenems and third-generation cephalosporins, which are now the best medications available for the treatment of multi-drug resistant bacteria.

A study by CDC researchers published in JAMA last fall found a significant uptick in use of broad spectrum antibiotics at USA hospitals between 2006 and 2012.

The high and medium priority categories contain other increasingly drug-resistant bacteria that cause common diseases such as gonorrhea and food poisoning due to salmonella, according to the WHO.

The bacteria that pose the "greatest threat to human health" because they are resistant to antibiotics have been revealed by health officials.

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