Countries around the world are seeing a mounting threat from antibiotic resistance. After decades of overprescribing antibiotics and overusing them in factory farming, rivers are polluted with antibiotics and complications from drug-resistant infections are projected to cost $100 trillion by 2050, according to Scientific American.
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By Tim Ruben Weimer
Tanja Diederen lives near Maastricht in the Netherlands. She has been suffering from Hidradenitis suppurativa for 30 years. Its a chronic skin disease in which the hair roots are inflamed under pain — often around the armpits and on the chest.
Journey Into the Unknown<p>"It tastes a bit like mushrooms," Tanja Diederen remarked as she took her morning phage dose. "When I went to Georgia, I was at first very nervous and excited, but above all disappointed about the treatment here in Holland."</p><p>After antibiotics stopped working for her, her doctor suggested that she take biopharmaceuticals, i.e. genetically engineered drugs. He had never heard of bacteriophages.</p><p>Instead, Diederen decided to look for treatment options with bacteriophages on her own, which she had heard about in a television program. </p>
The Doctor Never Heard of Phages<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjA5OTMyOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMDkyNzg5Mn0.qRW81FnFddQeCHblPbinr-ITYYThWMzcTkmyJHkLYXU/img.jpg?width=980" id="50ae5" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9ab12b7d5efd0f615a2c891f5341dd33" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
A phage model — phages are viruses, that multiply in bacteria and then destroy them.<p>She came across the <a href="http://eliava-institute.org/research/" target="_blank">Georgi-Eliava Institute</a> in Georgia, which has been researching bacteriophages since 1923 — just a few years after their discovery. Georgia has since developed into the global center of phage therapy.</p><p>During the Cold War, antibiotics were difficult to get there or anywhere in the Soviet Union. Treatment with phages was the best way to cure infectious diseases. Today, the Eliava Institute has one of the largest therapeutic collections of bacteriophages in the world.</p><p>Tanja Diederen stayed in treatment for two weeks, after which she traveled back to the Netherlands with a large suitcase full of phage tins. Since she began taking two different phages a day and applying a cream, she feels better.</p><p>She has more energy again and the small inflammations on her chest and armpits have decreased. The large inflammations come and go, but not as severe as before.</p>
"It Doesn't Feel Illegal to Me"<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjA5OTMzMi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MjU0NDkyN30.m6j4X6PqTBv-ZDBRh63x9sycHk6LdrgT6KbJa1Lq7Tc/img.jpg?width=980" id="12346" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8800327639cc2ab041ea52667ce91e73" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Communicating with the Georgian doctors was difficult for Tanja Diederen. She needed a translator.<p>Every three months Diederen travels to Belgium — 15 kilometers away — to pick up a new ration of bacteriophages sent from Georgia for 500 euros. Her health insurance doesn't pay for this. Belgium is the only Western European country where phages are allowed. In the Netherlands, as in all other countries, they can only be used in individual cases to save lives or relieve severe pain. </p><p>Her physician is solely responsible for the application.</p><p>"It doesn't feel illegal to me," said Diederen. "I am one hundred percent sure that this medicine will help many people."</p><p>Like antibiotics, bacteriophages can also lead to bacterial resistance. Their big advantage, however, is that they are always one step ahead of the bacteria and can overcome the resistance. In addition, they are always directed against a specific type of bacteria and thus leave useful bacteria undamaged, like in the intestine, for example.</p><p>Before phage treatment, it is always necessary to determine which bacteria actually trigger the disease. The phages are then produced individually for each patient — often in Georgia.</p>
Bacteriophages Permitted in Belgium<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjA5OTMzNC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2ODMzNjYzOX0.NBOrxQgb5wGeSCGpuud-87UR_xPYi0_QZN9Nqm0bDpo/img.jpg?width=980" id="21c23" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1b9e9c2603898ec71e4d05666f26454f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Professor Jean-Paul Pirnay from the Queen-Astrid Military Hospital in Brussels works with bacteriophages.<p>Such an individual medication does not meet the applicable regulations for medicinal products in any Western European country. It would take too much effort to have each individual phage formulation approved by the authorities.</p><p>Not so in Belgium. Since last year, this process can be legally circumvented by the Scientific Health Institute, in cooperation with doctors, patients, manufacturers, pharmacists and the Belgian Federal Office for Medicinal Products, issuing a certificate for the required phage ingredients. Pharmacists will then be able to use them for the manufacture of bacteriophages, subject to certain guidelines.</p><p>"We have used the existing legal framework to insert the bacteriophages," said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/lab/Laboratory-for-Molecular-and-Cellular-Technology-Jean-Paul-Pirnay" target="_blank">Dr Jean-Paul Pirnay,</a> who works at the Queen Astrid Military Hospital in Brussels on bacteriophages.</p><p>Around 30 patients have already been treated there. Currently, the military hospital is the only place in Belgium where bacteriophages are produced.</p>
Useful Supplement to Antibiotics<p>"We need pharmaceutical companies to make the phage," says Pirnay. "A hospital can't produce all phages for a growing number of patients."</p><p>But industrial production of phages would require a clearer legal framework, and research is not yet ready.</p><p>"I believe that phages will not replace antibiotics," he said. "Both will be used together to make antibiotics more effective."</p><p>Tanja Diederen wants to continue her treatment in Brussels in the future. Communication with the Georgian doctors was difficult for her, she always needed a translator.</p><p>"I really hope that phages will soon be allowed in Europe," she said. "Going to Georgia is quite difficult and expensive."</p><p>Germany and the Netherlands are currently conducting pilot studies to see whether an individual prescription of bacteriophages would be possible. France has already imported Belgian phages and agreed to their use.</p>
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Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.
Charlotte's Web<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDcwMjk3NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzQ0NjM4N30.SaQ85SK10-MWjN3PwHo2RqpiUBdjhD0IRnHKTqKaU7Q/img.jpg?width=980" id="84700" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a2174067dcc0c4094be25b3472ce08c8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="charlottes web cbd oil" /><p>Perhaps one of the most well-known brands in the CBD landscape, Charlotte's Web has been growing sustainable hemp plants for several years. The company is currently in the process of achieving official USDA Organic Certification, but it already practices organic and sustainable cultivation techniques to enhance the overall health of the soil and the hemp plants themselves, which creates some of the highest quality CBD extracts. Charlotte's Web offers CBD oils in a range of different concentration options, and some even come in a few flavor options such as chocolate mint, orange blossom, and lemon twist.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis warns that "global warming may have played a pivotal role" in the recent rise of a multidrug-resistant fungal superbug, sparking questions and concerns about the emerging public health threats of the human-caused climate crisis.
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In a significant win in the fight to save antibiotics, McDonald's—the largest and most iconic burger chain on the planet—announced Tuesday that it will address the use of antibiotics in its international supply chain for beef by 2021.
Tawatchai Prakobkit / EyeEm / Getty Images
Sanderson Farms announced Friday that it will stop unnecessarily administering two medically important antibiotics—the only two it reports using—in its chickens by March 1, 2019. The company will use the two antibiotics only when treating ailing animals or to control diseases in flocks with some sick birds. "This is a welcome change of heart and good news for people's health," said David Wallinga, senior health officer at NRDC. "To inspire consumer confidence, however, these new pledges will need to be independently verified."
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We live in partisan times, as anyone who had to sit through Thanksgiving dinner with distant relatives can probably attest. But even your crazy uncle would agree that the safety of our food shouldn't be a partisan issue. No one wants their child to get sick from eating a hamburger, chicken, or—in the case of the current E. coli outbreak—romaine lettuce. Yet last week's empty Thanksgiving salad bowls are a harbinger of what's to come if our federal government does not start taking food safety seriously.
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Those bacteria were resistant to at least one of 14 antibiotics tested for by the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System, a federal public health partnership.
By Rob Minto
The global superbug crisis is a complicated, long-term problem. The video below explains how it starts, spreads and its impact. But there are many other—sometimes surprising—aspects to this crisis.
There is one key way in which superbugs start. Whether it is in animals or humans, the initial point is where antibiotics kill off drug-susceptible bacteria, leaving drug-resistant bacteria to multiply.
By Madlen Davies and Sam Loewenberg
Many of the world's leading drug manufacturers may be leaking antibiotics from their factories into the environment, according to a new report from a drug industry watchdog. This risks creating more superbugs.
The report surveyed household-name pharmaceutical giants like GSK, Novartis and Roche as well as generic companies which make non-branded products for the NHS and other health systems.
A breakthrough in antibiotic resistance was reported last week. Scientists had re-engineered the drug vancomycin—used against extremely resistant infections including MRSA—to make it stronger and stop bugs becoming immune to it. Vancomycin has been prescribed for 60 years and is a highly effective antibiotic—yet in some countries bacteria are developing resistance.
By Madlen Davies
Industrial pollution from Indian pharmaceutical companies making medicines for nearly all the world's major drug companies is fueling the creation of deadly superbugs, suggests new research. Global health authorities have no regulations in place to stop this happening.
Following a four-month battle for his life, Chris Linaman committed to sharing his story to help raise awareness about the growing threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. As executive chef at a large medical center, he is also driving change at an institutional level, harnessing his purchasing power to support the responsible use of antibiotics in food animals.