Aaron Careaga

Research Analyst,

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Bacterial Resistance

The World Economic Forum released an interesting blog post today discussing the possibility of losing antibiotics to bacterial resistance. As discussed in previous articles (www.outsider-trading.com/bacterial-resistance/), this has been a fear that is becoming more and more prominent across multiple global levels. What are your thoughts on this growing issue?

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    Sep 26 2012: No matter how many problems science solves, there will never be a problem-free world; because every success brings with it peculiar problems.
    We will climb this mountain and see the other side of it; but there will always be mountains to climb.
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    Sep 26 2012: Scotts right.

    How do you tell a farmer not to use antibiotics for his livestock when money is involved? How do you tell farmers to use several varieties of potatoes rather than a few preferred by the industry they service?
  • Sep 26 2012: My thoughts are that we need to relax on antibiotics and such, unless it is a life or limb threatening endeavor. We have strayed too far from the natural path (which is to get sick, and naturally let your body grow immune to whatever made you sick) that now our immune systems are becoming pathetic things
  • Oct 10 2012: Also necessary is prevention, setting up the persons own body to help guard against infection as best it can

    Think, gut health

    Think, nutrition

    More an opinion, but I feel strongly about this.
  • Oct 9 2012: The future of healing bacterial infections has been around since the 1920's. The cost to produce them is pennies compared to dollars for standard antibiotic materials.

    So why aren't we using phage therapy? No profit in it.

    http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2009-03/next-phage
  • Oct 9 2012: This is a good picture of a phage and explanation of how they work.

    http://www.bacteriophagetherapy.info/ECF40946-8E2F-4890-9CA6-D390A26E39C1/What%20is%20it%20all%20about.html
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    Oct 9 2012: Bacteria are at the corner stone of life itself, so it takes little imagination to realise they must be one if not THE most robust and quickly adapting organism on the planet. Is it really little wonder that we are losing the battle? I for one do not think humans have the abilitlity to beat evolution...( thats what we are trying to achieve with bacteria) we will unlock the genome code and still come up short because evolution is making changes all the time. All we can hope for as a species is to try and cop the least amount of damage. Not easy when our actions are worsening the problem much the same way as a wall of rock and mortor hold back an ever larger amount of water in a dam. Thinking concepually in this way, just as a dam has a water race to relieve excess pressure so too must we accept that a little is better than no control at all.
  • Oct 8 2012: Lock the door, ban all air flights and limit travel to 25 miles! The answer is research. Since we know the entire human genome, surely bacterial resistance to known drugs can be overcome.
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    Oct 7 2012: I think the phage medical technology is the way to go. It already has kinship with current trends to produce genetically enhanced bacteria that will help to consume or target certian types of viruses and other bacteria. The only thing standing in the way is the lack of profits that can be generated by this technology.

    The one thing standing in our way is the lack of profits. The only way around that is to socialize all industries associated with medicine and health care.
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    Oct 7 2012: We need to get rid of the FDA or overhaul it. To make an open-source Pharmaceutical industry is simply nationalizing the industry. Let's face the facts. The cost to bring medicine to market is too high for the individual citizen. Too many forms of aspirin and not enough high blood pressure meds. The cost of advertising just pushes the cost of drugs higher and higher.

    We need to nationalize the drug industry.And, while we are at it, nationalize the Hospitals, put a ceiling on doctors pay at 250K. With free medical school, it shouldn't be a problem for doctors to exist on that sum each year. It is a well known fact that most computer programs do a better job of diagnosing sickness than Doctors.

    Get rid of Medical malpractice insurance and replace it by criminalizing malpractice. With a steady flow of doctors from the free medical school program, putting those that practice negligent medicine in prison shouldn't be a problem.

    The military has no problem keeping everyone healthy with no medical malpractice insurance and not paying doctors an exorbitant sum of money each year. In fact, they do a much better job than the private industry.

    In the real world, bringing down medical costs is easy. We just militarize the whole nation for two decades until everyone gets trained to be a good citizen. There shouldn't be anyone begging for meds in America.
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    Oct 7 2012: Aaron ,there are many factors that contribute to bacterial resistance.
    Overuse of antibiotics - prescribing antibiotics when not needed - byproduct of the practice of defensive medicine
    Misuse of antibiotics - prescribing the wrong antibiotic - it is impractical to wait for the cultures before antibiotics are administered..as the culture results take days ..so the antibiotics are chosen empirically
    Non-adherence to the antibiotic regimen by the patient- patients stop taking the antibiotic (when they feel better) instead of completing the regimen. This gives the bacteria, room to develop resistance.

    Efforts are being made in health care to slow the progress of antimicrobial resistance.
    Most health care institutions and practitioners are incorporating 'antimicrobial stewardship' into
    their practice to curtail antimicrobial resistance. One of the important outcomes of this approach is to ensure that the patient receives appropriate antimicrobial therapy minimizing the chance of resistance.
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    Oct 7 2012: I think we can break this down into a few important issues. The first being abuse of antibiotics. It would be difficult to force other countries into regulation. However, we may want to consider presenting the idea.

    The second issue is research. How many of our great minds go towards the creation of iPods and computers? I think this needs to be a social shift towards progress.

    We cannot find answers if we aren't thinking about the problems.
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    • Oct 9 2012: Sorry about that:)

      Phage therapy is the therapeutic use of bacteriophages to treat pathogenic bacterial infections.[1] Although extensively used and developed mainly in former Soviet Union countries circa 1920, the treatment is not approved in countries other than Georgia. Phage therapy has many potential applications in human medicine as well as dentistry, veterinary science, and agriculture.[2] If the target host of a phage therapy treatment is not an animal the term "biocontrol" (as in phage-mediated biocontrol of bacteria) is usually employed, rather than "phage therapy". ~ Wikipedia
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    Oct 3 2012: All is not lost. There is still some untried therapies that have been proven to work.

    During WWII, the Russians experienced a higher rate of success in treating wounds and disease associated with war conditions than any other country, even the US with it's antibiotic medicines. The recovery rate for wounded Russian soldiers was much higher than the U.S. Rate or any other country.

    The Russians did not have access to Penicillin because it was considered a national security matter and the knowledge not dispersed to other nations at that time.

    As a result, they developed other methods that, obviously had better results, a medical technology called Phage therapy.

    Here is a a link to help understand what this technology is and makes one wonder why it is not being developed here in the US and other western nations.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phage_therapy
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      Oct 6 2012: So why isn't anyone looking at this as a possible adjunct to chemotherapy in cancer treatment
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        Oct 6 2012: I think they touch on that subject in the wikipedia link.

        Here's a good link that describes the forces and some of the history:

        "U.S. needs to open eyes to 'phage therapy'"
        "...Then there are the financial issues. The amount of research and testing required by the FDA is staggering — the Infectious Diseases Society of America estimates it costs $800 million to bring a new antibiotic into the market. And all that money may be for naught. Phages, being naturally occurring, are tough to patent — so profits for pharmaceutical companies are limited..."

        There's that word again.... profit.

        I wonder if it would be possible to create an open source pharmaceutical industry?

        http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/columnist/andrewkantor/2006-07-06-phage-therapy_x.htm
        • Oct 7 2012: "I wonder if it would be possible to create an open source pharmaceutical industry?"

          I don't see how that is possible as long as there is the FDA. Let's say you and I have the right skills for it, and we get together to work on it. We can test stuff on each other, but when we want to test on other people, we have to pass a thousand-odd regulatory requirements. That is going to take money. Unless we want to keep making a loss, we'll have to start charging huge amounts for the medicine, and also patent it so that no one else can interfere with our recovering our costs. Patenting and protecting the patent is going to take even more money. This is what begins the arms-race that we see between companies now. "Good natured" companies cannot survive.
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    Oct 3 2012: Bacterial resistance has two fundamental reasons: first is the amazing ability of every living thing, in this case the baceteria, to adapt to inhospitable conditions, and second is the our misuse of this formidable weapon that we have in our hands, antibiotics. This inability to understand the potential and the complications of this tool comes from the lack of discipline, education and ethics. We, people, are willing to comprimise all too often and to burry our heads in the send of "taboo" and "difficult topics".

    We can't do anything about the ability of bacteria to adept, but if we amend our attitude we will manage to control the spread of the resistance much better. If we unite, the enemy will have a harder time to adapt, because there will be fewer wholes in our defences.
  • Sep 28 2012: One amazing thing about life is that it always fights its way to survive, bacteria are an example. This resistance is the pure evidence of a life form with the ability to adapt to adverse conditions. Antibiotics attack bacteria directly maybe the next approach in the future would be to refine the way we stimulate or teach the immune system to deal with this threat. All life forms learn and adapt.
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    Sep 26 2012: You are made of 10 trillion bacteria cells and maybe only 1 trillion human cells something like that. However bacteria have been and continue to be the longest and only surviving living thing. The are the idea of survival. That being said Bonnie here might have some good answers to limit bacteria

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/bonnie_bassler_on_how_bacteria_communicate.html
  • Sep 26 2012: There are huge differences between countries when it comes to antibiotics consumption: many countries squander it. Antibiotics use for livestock is probably an even bigger problem. Still, I don't think bacterial resistance will decimate humanity: we have better hygiene and nutrition (or at least access to it) than people in antiquity and the middle ages. If a new "black death" were to come it would only kill young children, the elderly and the very sick, many people would die but it would be nothing like the 33% mortality rate in the middle ages.
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    Sep 26 2012: that is your worst fear? i don't know if i envy you
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    Sep 26 2012: The average consumer of antibiotics is arguably at fault for contributing to the problem. Do you have any antibiotics that were prescribed for you that you quit taking before they were gone, just because you started feeling better after taking them for a while? The dose (number of pills) was designed to completely eradicate the bacteria you were infected with. But if you stopped taking the total number of pills, you didn't kill all the bacteria and some of them could have mutated to a new form that was resistant to the antibiotic.

    People create their own problems sometimes. I'm not trying to minimize the antibiotic vs bacteria issue as it was presented. But "we" force these types of problems on ourselves sometimes because of our own actions.