Resistance to antibiotics currently causes 700,000 deaths a year. If we don’t find and implement solutions quickly, this number will shoot up to ten million a year by 2050, more than deaths due to cancer. The situation, given its importance and how hard it is to get the message across, is very similar to the climate emergency or crisis.
Although there are measures that can be put in place to minimize the problem, we’re going to need new antibiotics with non-traditional mechanisms of action. However, new molecules are scarce and companies are no longer investing in this type of research among fears of limited returns. Faced with this situation, experts propose offering incentives to encourage public-private collaboration.
To discuss the importance of this problem, the latest advances and the difficulties of solving it, a group of top international experts met for a session of B·Debate, an initiative of Biocat and the ”la Caixa” Foundation to promote scientific debate led by experts in the field from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal).
• There are many similarities between the problem of antimicrobial resistance and the climate crisis, both in their impact and how hard it is to get the message across. The economic consequences could be similar to a more than 2°C rise in global temperatures.
• We are going to need new drugs based on novel strategies with new mechanisms of action. Noteworthy proposals include searching in the oceans, precision antibiotics like monoclonal antibodies, the use of bacteriophages, nanotechnology and peptides that cause bacteria proteins to aggregate and collapse.
• It is very difficult to take new antibiotics to market, especially those with a new approach. Companies don’t see the market opportunities and propose incentives to encourage public-private collaboration.
• It is important to boost current funding structures to promote the research and development of new molecules and to come up with new mechanisms, surely through public institutions or public-private partnerships, which will cover the lack of innovative proposals in the earliest phases of research.