Antibiotic resistance refers to the ability of microorganisms to withstand standard of care antibiotic medications that were once effective.
For the past 70 years, antibiotics have been used to treat infectious bacterial diseases ; however, several factors including the overuse and misuse of antibiotic agents have led to the spread of resistant bacteria, posing a serious global health risk. The World Health Organization describes antibiotic resistance as one of the greatest healthcare challenges, and cautions that a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries such as skin or soft tissue injuries can kill, is a very real possibility for the 21st Century.
While antibiotic resistance can occur naturally as bacteria evolve and mutate, inappropriate use of antibiotics is greatly exacerbating the problem. Antibiotics are often prescribed and/or used for non-bacterial, viral infections such as the common cold or flu, against which they are not effective.
One particular concern among experts is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. This strain of bacteria, which in the past was primarily burdensome in the hospital setting, has evolved over the past 40 years and can now occur following minor injuries. The economic impact of MRSA is serious, as the average cost of a related infection is approximately $35,000.
In April 2015, the World Health Organization released results of a global survey, which found that while many governments are committed to addressing the problem, there are major gaps in actions needed to prevent the misuse of antibiotics and reduce the spread of resistance. The report also identified specific factors that drive antibiotic resistance, including:
- Sales of antibiotics without prescription in countries lacking standard treatment guidelines
- Low public awareness of the issue
- Lack of programs to prevent and control hospital-acquired infections
- Abundance of poor-quality medications
No major new types of antibiotics have been developed in the last 30 years (World Health Organization, Antimicrobial Resistance: Global Report on Surveillance 2014). Key regulatory authorities, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, have encouraged the development of newer, more effective drugs to treat antibiotic infections.
TAXIS is focused on developing a new class of antibiotic agents to treat life-threatening, multi-drug resistant bacterial infections caused by pathogens like MRSA.