Web Zap*Germs Archive

March 15, 2005

World Approaching a Dangerous "Window of Vulnerability" to MRSA and Other Superbugs

According to Prof George Poste, Director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, the years 2010 to 2015 will be a "window of vulnerability" when superbugs like MRSA will have defeated the known antibiotics, and new ones will not yet have been developed. “We are facing a relentless increase in antibiotic resistance across all classes of drug,” Poste told the

Meanwhile, he said, half a dozen leading manufacturers of antibiotics have given up developing new types. One reason is that they are unable to profit much from the development of variants on the theme of a given class of antibiotic.

Another reason, according to Hartmut Derendorf, chairman of the department of pharmaceutics at the University of Florida [UF] College of Pharmacy, is that drug companies would rather invest in compounds aimed at patients with chronic conditions such as high cholesterol or diabetes, not drugs designed to be used for a week or two and then stopped once an infection clears up.

Derendorf's group at UF is hoping to increase the speed of new antibiotic development, while lowering the associated cost, by perfecting a method by which drug effectiveness is measured at the site of infection, rather than in the bloodstream as is currently practiced. This new "PK/PD" technique combines principles of pharmacokinetics, or an analysis of drug concentrations in the body, and pharmacodynamics, their effect on bacteria or how a drug kills bacteria.

PK/PD helps better determine which drugs are worth studying in people and at which dose, avoiding the typically lengthy and expensive trial-and-error approach that can take years.


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