Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko via unsplash

A race against time

By Anastasija Šļapina

The killers we cannot see, antibiotic resistance takes millions of lives each year, but there seems to be a glimpse of hope…

A formidable challenge to human health looms, antibiotic resistance. Once hailed as miracle drugs, antibiotics are now becoming less effective, with the World Health Organization (WHO) labelling this phenomenon as a “top threat” to global health. Antibiotic resistance typically arises when bacteria mutate or acquire resistant genes, allowing them to survive despite exposure to antibiotics. Overuse and misuse of antibiotics in both human and animal populations contribute significantly to the development and spread of antibiotic resistance. The urgency of the situation cannot be overstated, antibiotic resistance is not a distant threat but a reality. Each year, millions of lives are lost due to pathogens that don’t respond to our current arsenal of antibiotics

A groundbreaking antibiotic has hit headlines, named Zosurabalpin, this novel antibiotic has demonstrated remarkable efficacy against Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (CRAB) – a pathogen classified as a “priority 1” threat by the WHO. CRAB poses a significant clinical challenge, particularly in healthcare settings. 

Zosurabalpin targets molecular machinery called LptB2FGC, responsible for transporting lipopolysaccharide (LPS) – a key component of CRAB’s cell membrane. By blocking LptB2FGC, Zosurabalpin disrupts LPS transport to the outer membrane of the bacterium, leading to the accumulation of LPS inside the microorganism, killing it. Zosurabalpin is currently undergoing phase 1 clinical trials, assessing the drug’s safety and efficacy in treating CRAB infections in humans. 

Whilst still in the process of research and development, bacteriophages, viruses that prey on bacteria, hold immense promise as a potential solution to antibiotic resistance. By harnessing bacteriophages, scientists aim to create targeted therapies that can selectively eliminate harmful bacteria while preserving the balance of the body’s microbiome. But as with any scientific breakthrough, the widespread implementation of these new treatments is met with regulatory barriers, manufacturing complexities, financial obstacles and other challenges. The race between bacteria and our attempts to combat them means that new resistance mechanisms may emerge, rendering our current solutions obsolete.

So, how worried should we be? Right now, the answer is unclear and lies in our collective response to this crisis. Antibiotic resistance is not a problem that can be solved by scientists alone. It requires a concerted effort from policymakers, healthcare providers, and the general public. We must prioritise the cautious use of antibiotics, invest in research and development of alternative therapies, and implement robust surveillance systems to monitor and track resistant bacterial strains. 

Ultimately, the fight against antibiotic resistance is a race against time. The stakes are high, but the potential rewards – a world where infection is not a death sentence – are immeasurable.


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