2 thoughts on “Video: Why are we running out of effective antibiotics?”

  1. True about the money. In relative terms, there is far less availbale for drugs that save people’s lives than for those that give them happiness. But it is a complicated landscape.

    First, there are not too many options for “effective antibiotics”. Back in about 2000, I kept hearing from colleagues in pharma companies that no new antibacterial drugs had been discovered for 10 years. That is despite a fairly thorough research that relied on the best biological insights, on daring predictions, and on massive trial and error. Over time, the lack of results led to a widespread frustration. Whether there is money for that today or not, people doing that kind of research tend to burnt out.

    Then, what is “effective”? An effective antibiotic, chloramphenicol, was first tested in 1949. It’s ability to kill all bacteria it was tested on gave medics euphoria. We were to be saved from all infections once and for all. Soon, chloramphenicol became just the thing that demonstrated to us very unequivocally that our mitochondria and bacteria are related.

    The more we know, the more we understand that we don’t really want to kill all bacteria, or even smaller groups of bacteria. The major realisation of the past decade, which is still trickling down to the daily medical practice, is that the microbial community in our gut must be preserved and maintained just as any other organ. So an effective antibiotic would be one that treats one particular illness by focusing on the mechanisms of interaction between the pathogen and the host and. It does not necessarily have to kill pathogens; in many cases it is more efficient to prevent them from going pathogenic.

    In other words, the hope that a universal drug would be discovered to give us an edge in an arms race is disappearing with every new bit of knowledge. The market simply reflects this new knowledge.

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