In response to multiple news stories over the recent years about the invasion of superbugs, defined as those bacteria resistant to almost all forms of antibiotic therapy, I’ve written blogs HERE and HERE about the invasion of superbugs that hamper our medical professionals from effectively treating infections that were once easily eradicated with broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Subsequently, I wrote a blog about a “post antibiotic era” HERE, which indicated that few new antibiotic discoveries are happening to combat the increasing number of bacteria that develop resistance to our most reliable antibiotic therapies.
Approximately, 35,000 Americans die each year from drug resistant bacterial infections. Worldwide that number climbs to a staggering 700,000 deaths each year. According to United Nations estimates, the number of deaths from drug-resistant infections could rise to 10 million humans by 2050.
We are presently in what scientists call “an antibiotic discovery void” in which more of our common bacterial infections (UTI’s, common respiratory infections, ear and throat infections, etc,) are evolving to be resistant to currently available antibiotics. This drug resistance evolution is happening much faster than medical science can discover and bring to market new drug therapies to combat those resistant bacteria.
Over this last year, I’ve been reading about some exciting and rather innovative research into a technique called “Crispr,” which could become the next generation of our fight over drug-resistant bacteria, and possibly even those stubborn viruses—many of which are immune to drug therapy (think the common cold virus).
Scientists have discovered that, in nature, Crispr is a natural gene-editing tool in a specialized region of DNA and used by bacteria to evolve and protect itself against deadly viruses. Researchers have taken that natural Crispr tool and discovered how to alter or edit other DNA to a specific use.
By using Crispr-associated enzyme technology, scientists (at least in a laboratory environment) have been able to kill a species of Salmonella bacteria. This cutting-edge research is the beginning of a significant new way of thinking for future antibiotic therapies that can target highly specific, and highly aggressive, drug-resistant bacteria.
Although the results of this research are proving to be extremely effective in the laboratory, the next step is testing in living animals and then in human trials. We may be years away from having such treatments commonly available, but hope is on the horizon that the devastating effects of a “post antibiotic era” and the prediction of “an antibiotic discovery void” may well be a thing of the past rather than a future reality.
From an author’s perspective, however, such new research in the hands of a fictional villain could create an entirely new future for the human race—at least in a sinister thriller plot to alter the balance of world power.
Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!
For some interesting and entertaining reading, download my two medical thriller novels in the Jon Masters Thriller Series.
Both involve Murder, Mayhem and Medicine!
Lethal Medicine: “When a drug study clinical trial involves more than cutting-edge research and innocent people’s lives are threatened.”
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