The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
How Scientists Are Combating ‘Superbugs’: 4 Essential Reads
By Bijal Trivedi
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Nov. 13 that describes a list of microorganisms that have become resistant to antibiotics and pose a serious threat to public health. Each year these so-called superbugs cause more than 2.8 million infections in the U.S. and kill more than 35,000 people.
The CDC listed 18 species of bacteria and fungi that are of greatest concern. The fear is that these superbugs could spread resistance to other disease-causing organisms, rendering modern medicines' most powerful weapons useless.
At the same time, many scholars across the U.S. are addressing the problem and coming up with innovative solutions to fight these microscopic threats. Here we spotlight four examples from our 2018-2019 archives.
1. Consistent Rules for Hospitals With Superbugs
Infectious disease physician-scientist David Pride explains why incremental improvements of current antibiotics are not effective, and how the rules for containing antibiotic resistant bacteria differ from hospital to hospital exacerbating the spread of these deadly microbes. He presents an ambitious plan for curbing the rise of superbugs. That includes adopting common protocols across hospitals for when, and which, antibiotics are prescribed to stop inappropriate and over use. He also underscores the need to administer fewer antibiotics in livestock.
2. Viruses to the Rescue
It is well known that the enemy of your enemy is your friend. Andrew Camilli and Minmin Yen write about how they and other researchers are exploiting this idea to enlist bacteria-killing viruses, called bacteriophages, to wipe out superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics. These researchers are focusing on using bacteriophages to kill off the cholera bacterium in the gut to prevent infection. But these viral cocktails are also proving effective against other infections.
3. Smart Antibiotics
One problem with current antibiotics is that they don't discriminate between the disease causing microbes and the beneficial ones that make up our microbiome and are essential to good health. David B. Stewart and Arun K. Sharma describe how they are designing nanotechnology to carry inexpensive targeted drugs that only kill Clostridioides difficile, a microbe that the CDC has classified in this new report as an urgent threat.
4. Deadly Fungi?
You might be under the impression that all of the microbes on the CDC's list of public health threats are bacteria. But three — 20 percent of those mentioned in the report — are fungi. The most worrisome new foe is called Candida auris. With limited drugs to fight fungal infections, Carol A. Kumamoto and Jesus A. Romo write about how they are studying a less dangerous fungal relative, C. albicans to identify the vulnerabilities of this treacherous fungus.
Editor's note: This story is a roundup of articles from The Conversation's archives.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
- Drug-Resistant Salmonella Linked to Overuse of Antibiotics in Cattle ... ›
- Here's How Bad Antibiotic Resistance Has Gotten Over the Past 20 ... ›
- Rise of Drug-Resistant Fungal Disease Could Be Due to Global ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Britain has been battered by back-to-back major storms in consecutive weekends, which flooded streets, submerged rail lines, and canceled flights. The most recent storm, Dennis, forced a group of young climate activists to cancel their first ever national conference, as CBS News reported.
At the 56th Munich Security Conference in Germany, world powers turned to international defense issues with a focus on "Westlessness" — the idea that Western countries are uncertain of their values and their strategic orientation. Officials also discussed the implications of the coronavirus outbreak, the Middle East and the Libya crisis.
The climate crisis wreaks havoc on animals and plants that have trouble adapting to global heating and extreme weather. Some of the most obvious examples are at the far reaches of the planet, as bees disappear from Canada, penguin populations plummet in the Antarctic, and now polar bears in the Arctic are struggling from sea ice loss, according to a new study, as CNN reported.
- We can all take steps to reduce the environmental impact of our work-related travels.
- Individual actions — like the six described here — can cumulatively help prompt more collective changes, but it helps to prioritize by impact.
- As the saying goes: be the change you want to see in the world.