WHO Lists 12 Deadly Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and the Urgent Need for New Drugs


There are all sorts of diseases in the world, and every once in a while comes a certain ‘microorganism’ which creates havoc in the form of dangerous diseases like Ebola, Swine Flu, Bird Flu, and the like. Scientists have time and again come up with effective antibiotics to control the diseases and save lives, but the shocking part is that each year these microbes come back twice as more potent and resistant to the antibiotics. As such it is a constant struggle to reinvent and find effective cures. In such cases, intensive research is the only thing that can save lives as scientists discover more characteristics and behaviour of the triggers.

Recently, WHO published the first-ever list of antibiotic-resistant “priority pathogens” that included 12 families of bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health. The intention was to spread awareness, as well as guide and promote research and development of new antibiotics. There is a serious concern on the growing global resistance to antimicrobial medicines.
(How Antibiotics May Make You More Prone to Infections)WHO Lists 12 Deadly Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and the Urgent Need for New Drugs

What Did the List Include?

According to the global health body, the list is divided into three categories according to the urgency of need for new antibiotics: critical, high and medium priority.

“The most critical group of all includes multi-drug resistant bacteria that pose a particular threat in hospitals, nursing homes, and among patients whose care requires devices such as ventilators and blood catheters. They include Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas and various Enterobacteriaceae (including Klebsiella, E. coli, Serratia, and Proteus),” said a WHO statement.

It said that all the bacteria can cause severe and often deadly infections such as bloodstream infections and pneumonia.

“These bacteria have become resistant to a large number of antibiotics, including carbapenems and third generation cephalosporins – the best available antibiotics for treating multi-drug resistant bacteria,” said the report.
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High- Medium Priority Type

The second tier includes antibiotics of high priority – for Enterococcus faecium, which is vancomycin-resistant; Staphylococcus aureus, which is methicillin-resistant; Helicobacter pylori, which is clarithromycin-resistant; Campylobacter spp, which is fluoroquinolone-resistant; Salmonellae, which is fluoroquinolone-resistant; and Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which is cephalosporin and fluoroquinolone-resistant.

The third tier includes medium priority antibiotics for Streptococcus pneumoniae, which is penicillin-non-susceptible; Haemophilus influenzae, which is ampicillin-resistant; and Shigella spp, which is fluoroquinolone-resistant.

“This list is a new tool to ensure research and development responds to urgent public health needs,” said WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation Marie-Paule Kieny in the statement.

Evelina Tacconelli, Head of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Tubingen and a major contributor to the list, said, “New antibiotics targeting this priority list of pathogens will help to reduce deaths due to resistant infections around the world.

“Waiting any longer will cause further public health problems and dramatically impact on patient care.”

gut bacteria


Human-virus hybrid created to kill off antibiotic-resistant MRSA superbug


Human cells have been mixed with bacteria and viruses to create a hybrid immune cell that can kill off deadly resistant bacteria, scientists have said.

Some viruses are designed to infect bacteria and target their prey in a different way to the human immune system.

The researchers were able to take the virus’s targeting mechanism and graft it onto a human immune antibody. They then did the same with bacteria, which attack other bacteria, and a human antibody.

In experiments in the lab the hybrids, dubbed “lysibodies”, attached themselves to Staphylococcus bacteria – which can become the resistant superbug MRSA. This then signalled the immune system to attack and destroy the bacteria.

Tests of the technique on mice infected with MRSA found their survival rate was significantly improved, the researchers said.

Human testing has now begun to establish whether the lysibodies are safe and how effective they are.

One of the researchers, Professor Vincent Fischetti, of The Rockefeller University in the US, said: “Bacteria-infecting viruses have molecules that recognize and tightly bind to these common components of the bacterial cell’s surface that the human immune system largely misses.

“We have co-opted these molecules, and we’ve put them to work helping the human immune system fight off microbial pathogens.”web-MRSA-rex.jpg

Some viruses have “molecular snippers”, called lysins, that target carbohydrates on the bacteria’s cell walls.

Human antibodies are designed to target proteins and have a bit of a blind spot for carbohydrates.

By creating a hybrid with a human immune cell, this should give the body a whole new way to identify disease cells.

And Professor Fischetti added: “Based on our results, it may be possible to use not just lysins, but any molecule with a high affinity toward a target on any pathogen – be it virus, parasite, or fungus – to create hybrid antibodies.

“This approach could make it possible to develop a new class of immune boosting therapies for infectious diseases.”

The human immune antibodies used in the hybrids do not attack the disease, but instead flag up targets for immune system killer cells.

Dr Assaf Raz, also of Rockefeller, who led the experiments, said: “Both antibodies and lysins have two discrete components.

“They both have a part that binds their respective target, but whereas the second component of lysins cuts the bacterial cell wall, in antibodies it coordinates an immune response.

“This made it possible for us to mix and match, combining the viral piece responsible for latching onto a carbohydrate with the part of the antibody that tells immune cells how to respond.”

It usually takes years for a new drug to get from tests of safety and effectiveness to the point where it could be used as a medicine.

Doubtless there will be concerns about potential for unintended consequences from mixing human with viral or bacterial material.

However the research has attracted interest from the Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute in the US, a partnership established to expedite early-stage drug discovery.

It is already manufacturing lysibodies and has plans to begin testing their safety.