- The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued its first-ever list of super pathogens for which new antibiotics are urgently needed because they have become resistant to multiple existing antibiotics.
- The list involves 12 families of bacteria ranked as critical, such as Pseudomonas and various Enterobacteriaceae including E. coli, as well as high or medium priority pathogens for antibacterial research.
- The WHO hopes the list will encourage countries to implement policies that incentivize basic research and antibiotic development.
While releasing the list to spur R&D, the WHO emphasizes that more is needed to fight antibiotic resistance—specifically, improved prevention control and appropriate use of antibiotics.
A study by CDC researchers published in JAMA last fall found a significant uptick in use of broad spectrum antibiotics at U.S. hospitals between 2006 and 2012. Yet studies have shown that patients in hospitals beds previously occupied by patients who were treated with antibiotics are at higher risk of developing certain infections.
Each year, at least 2 million people acquire antibiotic-resistant infection and 23,000 die as a result, according to the CDC. Meanwhile, the rate of antibiotic-resistant infections in children has shot up 700% since 2007, research released earlier this month shows.
Fears of a post-antibiotic world where deadly superbugs wreak havoc in hospital wards has led to antibiotic stewardship programs around the country.
Release of the WHO's list coincides with a new study by researchers at Case Western Reserve University showing promise for an investigational agent called SCY-078 in fighting Candida auris, a potentially deadly fungal infection.