#3: Continuing the Fight Against Gram-Negative Infections: The New Agents—Part I
Antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) organisms, particularly Gram-negative bacteria, present a critical threat and a substantial burden. In the United States alone, these organisms account for more than 2 million infections, 23,000 deaths, and $2 billion in excess medical spending per year.1 In February of this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its list of Priority 1, critical organisms to include carbapenem-resistant and extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBLs), carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), carbapenem-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii. Other Gram-negative bacteria, including bacteria that produce Klebsiella pneumonia carbapenemase (KPC), bacteria with plasmid-mediated resistance to carbapenems, and bacteria with plasmid-mediated resistance to colistin, pose increasing threats. It is not surprising, then, that AMR Gram-negative infections, and antimicrobial agents that target them, received a large amount of attention the 2017 ASM Microbe conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Read more about new agents to fight gram-negative infections, here
#2: New Biosecurity Threats Appear in Less Familiar Forms
Infectious diseases pose a threat from multiple avenues—naturally occurring events such as outbreaks, accidental incidents like lab errors, and intentional acts of bioterrorism. Globalization, growing populations, and increasing encroachment of humans onto animal habitats have increased the risk of spillover and natural outbreaks. From the laboratory side, the threat is a mixture of biosecurity and biosafety. Biosecurity measures are those that seek to protect the organisms from nefarious actors, while biosafety practices look to protect investigators (or the public) from accidental exposures. The Ebola outbreak in 2014 and 2015, the Zika virus epidemic of 2015 and 2016, findings of smallpox vials in National Institutes of Health laboratory freezers in 2014, and continual lab errors involving mishandling and shipping of live select agents all highlight the threat of natural and accidental events. Although these recent occurrences have reinforced the need for preventive and responsive measures, the threat of bioterrorism can seem a bit distant; however, with advances in biotechnology and global travel, we must remain vigilant.