Listen up people - we have run out of options.
At least when we come to superbugs, if University of Texas Medical School researchers Dr. Barbara E. Murray and Dr. Cesar Ariasare to be believed. The two study infectious diseases for a living, so they should know.
Their article in a recent New England Journal of Medicine called antibiotic-resistant bugs "a super-challenge," and was riddled with gloomy warnings and predictions about super bugs kicking the shit out of us. Oh, wait, they didn't say it like that.
The Houston duo said: "It is more difficult than ever to eradicate infections caused by antibiotic-resistant "superbugs," and the problem is exacerbated by a dry pipeline for new antimicrobials ..."
Translation: the superbugs are kicking the shit out of us.
A patient with a bloodstream infection in the early 1940s had a better chance of survival than a patient today with the exact same condition. That sounds like serious ass-kicking to us.
We all already know that the superbugs are changing, adapting - in short, evolving - and doing it quickly. They're becoming "first-class multidrug-resistant pathogen[s]," with "true, high-level resistance." And they're doing it at the exact same time pharmaceutical companies are cutting back their research in antibiotic reduction. (What a coinkydink.)
But what most of us don't know is how pessimistic researchers are about the situation.
Less than 70 years ago penicillin looked like a miracle and we thought we were saved. Today we're not so much saved, as screwed. And nothing is going to change that any time soon. Right now no pharmaceutical company has anything in the advanced stages of testing and nobody is signed up to change that.
Ariasare and Murray, the gloomy glums that they are, suggest researchers turn "to compounds developed decades ago and previously abandoned because of toxicity -- or test everything they can think of and use whatever looks active."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
That doesn't sound encouraging - especially that "toxicity" part.
Neither of the pair could talk to Hair Balls -- what, doing research or something? -- but in their New England Journal article they say, "A concerted effort on the part of academic researchers and their institutions, industry, and government is crucial if humans are to maintain the upper hand in this battle against bacteria," and call the situation "a fight with global consequences."
Translation: We're all in this together. (Just try not to cough on us.)
-- Olivia Flores Alvarez