Resistant strains of bacteria pose a serious threat to the security of our global health system. As more and more bacteria develop resistance to our best antibiotics, once treatable diseases may re-emerge, potentially causing mass epidemics.
“Antibiotic resistant bacterial infections, now originating in both healthcare and community settings, pose serious consequences for public health and burden the U.S. economy with up to $20 billion in healthcare costs each year,” Shelley Haydel, an associate professor in the Biodesign Center for Immunotherapy, Vaccines and Virotherapy and the School of Life Sciences, said.
Antibiotics kill bacteria by attacking the cell wall. Bacterial strains that can resist this mechanism, either by neutralizing the antibiotic or pumping it back out of the cell, survive and multiply while other strains are killed off. This selective pressure for resistant bacterial strains only grows as the same antibiotics are used repeatedly.
The scientific community is trying to address this antibiotic resistance through the development of new and more effective antibiotics (or other drugs) and diagnostic technologies better able to identify resistant microbes with higher specificity.
Biodesign investigators Haydel, Shaopeng Wang and NJ Tao received a $5.8M grant from the National Institutes of Health over the course of five years to develop a more effective antibiotic susceptibility test, which detects and images individual bacterial cells and determines their susceptibility to antibiotics via a novel algorithm.
Source and further reading: Arizona State University