The Unmet Need
AMR results in a world where the advances in modern medicine are lost
When the antibiotics used to rescue vulnerable patients from life-threatening infections can no longer be relied upon, procedures such as organ transplantation and cancer chemotherapy are delayed or even canceled. One apocalyptic scenario for the year 2050 forecasts that the number of deaths due to drug-resistant infections would exceed those from cancer today.
While drug resistance can be accelerated by inappropriate use of antibiotics in settings where they aren’t needed, it is important to recognize that appropriate use of antibiotics in life-saving situations can also lead to drug resistance over time. Improving antibiotic use practices, while important, is not enough. There will never be a time when we do not need new therapies for drug-resistant bacteria. This requires ongoing innovation to ensure active antibiotics are available to patients.
The Usefulness of this Critical Class of Antibiotics is Being Lost
The discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in the 1920s was one of the most impactful advances in medicine in the last century. Penicillin and the subsequent improvements in newer forms of penicillin-like drugs such as cephalosporins and carbapenems have positioned these drugs as preferred choices for treatment of infections in many settings.
Alarmingly, resistance in gram-negative bacteria to the beta-lactam antibiotic class is reversing the gains made over the last 35 years with these new drugs. The loss of this class of drugs become the “tipping point” in the loss of effective antibiotics for treatment of serious infections.
The most common form of resistance to the penicillin, cephalosporin and carbapenem classes of drugs occurs due to production of a bacterial enzyme that destroys the antibiotic. These enzymes, called beta-lactamases, have spread among bacteria worldwide.