TEDx Talk: Antimicrobials to Treat Infectious Diseases without Leading to Resistant Bacteria

"Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill," says Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s assistant director-general for health security. "Effective antibiotics have been one of the pillars allowing us to live longer, live healthier, and benefit from modern medicine. Unless we take significant actions to improve efforts to prevent infections and also change how we produce, prescribe, and use antibiotics, the world will lose more and more of these global public health goods and the implications will be devastating."

The WHO's "Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance 2014 report" notes that resistance is occurring across many different infectious agents, but the report focuses on antibiotic resistance in seven different bacteria responsible for common, serious diseases such as bloodstream infections (sepsis), diarrhea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and gonorrhea. The results are cause for high concern, documenting resistance to antibiotics, especially "last resort" antibiotics, in all regions of the world. New research by Dr. Pratik Shah at Harvard Medical School identified a cost-effective way to treat bacterial infections without antibiotics. Dr. Shah described a molecular switch, controlled by bacterial diets, that toggles microbial infectivity in humans. Exploiting bacterial diets to train them to be good residents of our bodies shows that unorthodox ways to combat and treat antibiotic resistance may lead to the next generation of antimicrobials.

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