Posts Tagged ‘superbugs’

The Extinction Protocol

April 2014HEALTH – Antibiotic resistance is now a bigger crisis than the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, a landmark report warned today. The spread of deadly superbugs that evade even the most powerful antibiotics is happening across the world, United Nations officials have confirmed. The effects will be devastating – meaning a simple scratch or urinary tract infection could kill. The WHO said in some countries, because of resistance, carbapenems now do not work in more than half of people with common hospital-acquired infections caused by a bacteria called K. pneumoniae, such as pneumonia, blood infections, and infections in newborn babies and intensive-care patients. Resistance to one of the most widely used antibiotics for treating urinary tract infections caused by E. coli -medicines called fluoroquinolones – is also very widespread, it said. In the 1980s, when these drugs were first introduced, resistance was virtually zero, according to the…

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Rise of the Superbugs

By Geoff Thompson and Mary Ann Jolley

Antibiotics are the wonder drugs of modern medicine. They’ve allowed doctors to save and extend life by killing infection and enabling ground breaking surgery. But imagine a world where antibiotics don’t work – that would be a place dominated by superbugs, bacteria that don’t respond to antibiotics. Scientists say this would end many modern medical procedures and they claim the threat is greater than we realise.

Four Corners reporter Geoff Thompson looks at the rise of superbugs, visiting the hot spots around the world where the misuse of antibiotics is creating a breeding ground for these bacteria and he tells the horrific stories of those who’ve contracted infections that can’t be controlled. He also reveals that Australian health officials are making decisions that could open the way for a deadly superbug to infect Australians living in the far north of the country.

“…Every time we take an antibiotic we’re giving the bug a chance to become a superbug … the more of us that take antibiotics inappropriately, the greater the chance in the community a superbug will come.”

And that’s exactly what’s happening in India, where antibiotics are not restricted in their use. As a result a new superbug, New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase or NDM-1, has evolved. Not only is it deadly in its own right, it’s also capable of genetically modifying other bacteria to make them superbugs.

Superbugs like this have infected people who’ve been injured in accidents while travelling overseas. In other cases, apparently healthy people return from abroad only to discover that a simple medical procedure effectively unleashes the bug. In one instance, a healthy middle-aged man went for a prostate biopsy. The procedure was done successfully but one day later he became desperately ill. A superbug, possibly contracted while travelling overseas, had moved from his bowel into his bloodstream making him critically ill.

In the Western Province of Papua New Guinea, close to the Australian border, the misuse of antibiotics has contributed to the rise of a superbug form of Tuberculosis. For seven years the Queensland and Federal Governments funded TB clinics for PNG nationals in the Torres Strait. These clinics were the last line of defence that could stop the superbug coming to the Australian mainland. But the closure of these clinics in June this year has left the job of treating TB patients with the PNG Government , funded by AusAID. This could increase the risk of superbug TB coming to Australia.

Watch Rise of the Superbugs HERE

“Rise of the Superbugs”, reported by Geoff Thompson and presented by Kerry O’Brien, aired on Monday 29th October on ABC 1 at 8.30 pm.

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Alfonso J. Alanis, Resistance to Antibiotics: Are We in the Post-Antibiotic Era?, Archives of Medical Research, Volume 36, Issue 6, November–December 2005, Pages 697-705, ISSN 0188-4409, 10.1016/j.arcmed.2005.06.009.
(http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0188440905002730)
Abstract: Serious infections caused by bacteria that have become resistant to commonly used antibiotics have become a major global healthcare problem in the 21st century. They not only are more severe and require longer and more complex treatments, but they are also significantly more expensive to diagnose and to treat. Antibiotic resistance, initially a problem of the hospital setting associated with an increased number of hospital-acquired infections usually in critically ill and immunosuppressed patients, has now extended into the community causing severe infections difficult to diagnose and treat. The molecular mechanisms by which bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics are diverse and complex. Bacteria have developed resistance to all different classes of antibiotics discovered to date. The most frequent type of resistance is acquired and transmitted horizontally via the conjugation of a plasmid. In recent times new mechanisms of resistance have resulted in the simultaneous development of resistance to several antibiotic classes creating very dangerous multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacterial strains, some also known as “superbugs”. The indiscriminate and inappropriate use of antibiotics in outpatient clinics, hospitalized patients and in the food industry is the single largest factor leading to antibiotic resistance. In recent years, the number of new antibiotics licensed for human use in different parts of the world has been lower than in the recent past. In addition, there has been less innovation in the field of antimicrobial discovery research and development. The pharmaceutical industry, large academic institutions or the government are not investing the necessary resources to produce the next generation of newer safe and effective antimicrobial drugs. In many cases, large pharmaceutical companies have terminated their anti-infective research programs altogether due to economic reasons. The potential negative consequences of all these events are relevant because they put society at risk for the spread of potentially serious MDR bacterial infections.
Keywords: Antibiotic resistance; Bacterial resistance; New antibiotics; Antibiotic research

Resistance to Antibiotics: Are We in the Post-Antibiotic Era?

Serious infections caused by bacteria that have become resistant to commonly used antibiotics have become a major global healthcare problem in the 21st century. They not only are more severe and require longer and more complex treatments, but they are also significantly more expensive to diagnose and to treat. Antibiotic resistance, initially a problem of the hospital setting associated with an increased number of hospital-acquired infections usually in critically ill and immunosuppressed patients, has now extended into the community causing severe infections difficult to diagnose and treat. The molecular mechanisms by which bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics are diverse and complex. Bacteria have developed resistance to all different classes of antibiotics discovered to date. The most frequent type of resistance is acquired and transmitted horizontally via the conjugation of a plasmid. In recent times new mechanisms of resistance have resulted in the simultaneous development of resistance to several antibiotic classes creating very dangerous multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacterial strains, some also known as “superbugs”. The indiscriminate and inappropriate use of antibiotics in outpatient clinics, hospitalized patients and in the food industry is the single largest factor leading to antibiotic resistance. In recent years, the number of new antibiotics licensed for human use in different parts of the world has been lower than in the recent past. In addition, there has been less innovation in the field of antimicrobial discovery research and development. The pharmaceutical industry, large academic institutions or the government are not investing the necessary resources to produce the next generation of newer safe and effective antimicrobial drugs. In many cases, large pharmaceutical companies have terminated their anti-infective research programs altogether due to economic reasons. The potential negative consequences of all these events are relevant because they put society at risk for the spread of potentially serious MDR bacterial infections.

Read the Full Text Journal Here

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Society for General Microbiology; Running out of treatments: the problem superbugs resistant to everything

NewsRx Health (Apr 14, 2008): 148.

Doctors are running out of treatments for today’s trauma victims and critically ill patients because of infections due to drug resistant microbes — even after resorting to using medicines thrown out 20 years ago because of severe side effects, scientists heard today (Tuesday 1 April 2008) at the Society for General Microbiology’s 162nd meeting being held this week at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

“Doctors in many countries have gone back to using old antibiotics that were abandoned 20 years ago because their toxic side effects were so frequent and so bad”, says Professor Matthew Falagas from the Alfa Institute of Biomedical Sciences in Athens, Greece and Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts. “But superbugs like Acinetobacter have challenged doctors all over the world by now becoming resistant to these older and considered more dangerous medicines”.

“Even colistin, a polymyxin type antibiotic discovered 60 years ago, has recently been used as a salvage remedy to treat patients with Acinetobacter infections”, says Professor Falagas. “And it was successful for a while, but now it occasionally fails due to recent extensive use that has caused the bacteria to become resistant, leading to problem superbugs which are pan-drug resistant, in other words resistant to all available antibiotics”.

The Greek researchers have also shown in new data analyses that Acinetobacter is a more serious threat than previously thought — it doesn’t just cause severe infections, it kills many more patients than doctors had realised. Acinetobacter can cause pneumonia, skin and wound infections and in some cases meningitis.

The scientists have also identified a whole range of drug resistant strategies being used by the bacteria, including the production of compounds which can inactivate the drug treatments, cell pumps that can bail out the drug molecules from inside bacterial cells making them ineffective, and mutating the drug target sites making the drug molecules miss or fail to latch onto the specific regions of the bacterial cells that they were aiming for.

“There have already been severe problems with critically ill patients due to Acinetobacter baumannii infections in various countries”, says Matthew Falagas. “In some cases we have simply run out of treatments and we could be facing a pandemic with important public health implications”.

Keywords: Acinetobacter Infections, Antibiotics, Antimicrobial Resistance, Bioengineering, Biomedical Engineering, Biomedicine, Colistin, Drug Development, Drug Resistance, Therapy, Treatment, Society for General Microbiology.

This article was prepared by NewsRx Health editors from staff and other reports. Copyright 2008, NewsRx Health via NewsRx.com.

(c)Copyright 2008, NewsRx Health via VerticalNews.com

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Boston University College of Engineering; Low levels of antibiotics cause multidrug resistance in ‘superbugs’

Anonymous. NewsRx Health (Mar 7, 2010): 108.

2010 MAR 7 – (VerticalNews.com) — For years, doctors have warned patients to finish their antibiotic prescriptions or risk a renewed infection by a “superbug” that can mount a more powerful defense against the same drug. But a new study by Boston University biomedical engineers indicates that treating bacteria with levels of antibiotics insufficient to kill them produces germs that are cross-resistant to a wide range of antibiotics.

In the Feb. 12 issue of Molecular Cell, research led by Boston University Professor James J. Collins details for the first time the biomolecular process that produces superbugs. When administered in lethal levels, antibiotics trigger a fatal chain reaction within the bacteria that shreds the cell’s DNA. But, when the level of antibiotic is less than lethal the same reaction causes DNA mutations that are not only survivable, but actually protect the bacteria from numerous antibiotics beyond the one it was exposed to.

“In effect, what doesn’t kill them makes them stronger,” said Collins, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “These findings drive home the need for tighter regulations on the use of antibiotics, especially in agriculture; for doctors to be more disciplined in their prescription of antibiotics; and for patients to be more disciplined in following their prescriptions.”

Two years ago, Collins – together with graduate student Michael Kohanski and post-doctoral fellow Mark DePristo — proved that when applied in lethal doses, antibiotics stimulate the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) molecules, or free radicals that damage DNA, protein and lipids in bacterial cells, contributing to their demise. In the new study, the same co-authors demonstrated that the free radicals produced by a sub-lethal dose of an antibiotic accelerate mutations that protect against a variety of antibiotics other than the administered drug.

“We know free radicals damage DNA, and when that happens, DNA repair systems get called into play that are known to introduce mistakes, or mutations,” said Collins. “We arrived at the hypothesis that sub-lethal levels of antibiotics could bump up the mutation rate via the production of free radicals, and lead to the dramatic emergence of multi-drug resistance.”

Testing their hypothesis on strains of E. coli and Staphylococcus, the researchers administered sub-lethal levels of five kinds of antibiotics and showed that each boosted levels of ROS and mutations in the bacterial DNA. They next conducted a series of experiments to show that bacteria initially subjected to a sub-lethal dose of one of the antibiotics exhibited cross-resistance to a number of the other antibiotics. Finally, they sequenced the genes known to cause resistance to each antibiotic and pinpointed the mutations that protected the bacteria. Ironically, the researchers discovered that in some cases the bacteria were still be susceptible to the original antibiotic.

“The sub-lethal levels dramatically drove up the mutation levels, and produced a wide array of mutations,” Collins observed. “Because you’re not killing with the antibiotics, you’re allowing many different types of mutants to survive. We discovered that in this zoo of mutants, you can actually have a mutant that could be killed by the antibiotic that produced the mutation but, as a result of its mutation, be resistant to other antibiotics.”

The group’s findings underscore the potentially serious consequences to public health of administering antibiotics in low or incomplete doses. This is common practice among farmers who apply low levels of antibiotics to livestock feed; doctors who prescribe low levels of antibiotics as placebos for people with viral infections; and patients who don’t follow the full course of antibiotic treatment.

The study’s findings may ultimately lead to the development of new antibiotic treatments enhanced with compounds designed to prevent the emergence of multi-drug resistance. For example, one potential treatment might inhibit the DNA damage repair systems that lead to the problematic mutations, while another might boost production of cell-destroying free radicals so that a low dose of antibiotic is sufficient to kill targeted bacterial cells.

Keywords: Agricultural, Agriculture, Antibacterial, Antibiotic, Antimicrobial Resistance, Bioengineering, Biomedical Engineering, Biomedicine, Drug Development, Drug Resistance, Engineering, Livestock, Therapy, Treatment, Boston University College of Engineering.

This article was prepared by NewsRx Health editors from staff and other reports. Copyright 2010, NewsRx Health via NewsRx.com.

(c)Copyright 2010, NewsRx Health via NewsRx.com

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