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Overcoming resistance

  • Science And Society


Overcoming resistance EMBO reports VOL 5 | NO 6 | 2004 ©2004 EUROPEAN MOLECULAR BIOLOGY ORGANIZATION analysisanalysis 550 Overcoming resistance Rather than waiting for new drugs, surveillance and education might be more efficient strategies to combat rising antimicrobial resistance Resistant bacteria rarely make the head-lines these days. However, in March2004, The New York Times reported a new strain of community-acquired methicillin- resistant Staphylococcus aureus (caMRSA), which is much more aggressive than its hos- pital brethren and has a particular prefer- ence for the young and healthy (Zuger, 2004). Indeed, caMRSA is biologically dif- ferent from methicillin-resistant hospital strains and no one knows where it came from or how it emerged. “This is a resistant bug that’s been in the news because of the way it’s affected competitive sports partici- pants, including professional football here in the United States, correctional facilities, Native Americans, and paediatric popula- tions,” said Todd Weber of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; Atlanta, GA, USA). “Although we don’t have surveillance data to show it, it really appears that it’s increasing.” This latest case of anti- biotic resistance again highlights the dangers of antibiotic misuse and the need for efficient strategies to fight bacterial diseases. Antibiotics are a godsend against bacter- ial diseases, but they have their weaknesses. Unfortunately, whether carefully used or carelessly abused, consumption of these drugs will eventually lead to the emergence of resistance. The most obvious way to tackle this problem is to develop new antibiotics, but, if anything, drug companies are invest- ing less in antibiotic drug development than ever before. Faced with this situation, public- health experts are returning to old strategies for fighting disease—surveillance and edu- cation—to make better use of the medicines available. In Europe, two ambitious interna- tional efforts monitor antibiotic us

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