A ray of hope amid antibiotic gloom

As antibiotic resistance continues to threaten the treatment of various infections, researchers are looking for new ways to supplement and in some cases replace failing antimicrobial drugs.

When it comes to tackling infections, we’ve had it pretty good for the past 90 years. The development of antibiotics has turned many previously deadly infections into mere inconveniences, but it couldn’t last forever. Slowly, bacteria have fought back, developing resistance to many of the most effective drugs. In the United States alone, around 2 million people are infected with resistant strains of bacteria each year, and at least 23,000 of these patients die.

“We’re at the end of the first antibiotic era,” says Lloyd Czaplewski, founder of Chemical Biology Ventures, an R&D consultancy based in Oxfordshire. “There might not be any new classes of drugs to discover.”

New ideas are needed. And while most researchers and pharmaceutical companies have all but given up on developing new antibiotics, work is racing ahead on alternative therapies, with an aim to extend the life of existing drugs, or replace them altogether. Read more in The Pharmaceutical Journal.