Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a topic that just won’t go away, and for good reason. Despite the plethora of threats facing humankind, including thousands of diseases in need of therapies or cures, many scientists worry that the biggest risk of extinction comes from the deadly pathogens that exist in uneasy cohabitation on planet Earth.
Tensions mounted in 2015 after the mcr-1 gene was detected on plasmids in China and Europe and were heightened last year with the first U.S. case of a patient with an infection resistant to a last-resort antibiotic.
It is therefore of great importance that WHO has published its first ever list of antibiotic-resistant “priority pathogens” – a catalogue of 12 families of bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health. The list was drawn up in a bid to guide and promote research and development (R&D) of new antibiotics, as part of WHO’s efforts to address growing global resistance to antimicrobial medicines.
The list highlights in particular the threat of gram-negative bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics. These bacteria have built-in abilities to find new ways to resist treatment and can pass along genetic material that allows other bacteria to become drug-resistant as well.
Especially small companies like Madam Therapeutics are are moving into the space. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) such as SAAP-148 are among the newest kids on the block.
SAAP-148 have shown the ability to kill gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria, enveloped
viruses, fungi and even cancerous cells. AMPs also may offer the prospect of enhancing immunity by functioning as immunomodulators.