Posts tagged: Antibiotic Resistance

Food For Thought: Antibiotic Resistance Generated in Food Production

The expression “food for thought” is often used proverbially more than literally, although results from FDA reports make it necessary to consider how our food and livestock are processed and put serious thought into the food we eat. To make the case immediately apparent, consider that four fifths of all antibiotic consumption in the USA is not human consumption; it’s consumed by farm animals. To quantify this statement, in 2011, 7.7 million pounds of antibiotics were consumed by American people, while 29.9 million pounds went into meat and poultry production.

Ondine

Antibiotics Sold to Livestock Industry vs. Sold for Human Consumption.

The proportion of antibiotics fed to livestock is not a recent issue, it has been growing and the problems that arise from it have accumulated for over 50 years. An alarming development of bacteria that had grown drug resistant due to antibiotics in the livestock industry is MRSA (short for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) which is a persistent threat to human health. Estimates indicate that MRSA kills 19,000 Americans each year, hospitalizes 370,000, and results in billions of dollars of additional health care spending. The intent of these statistics is not to frighten, but to raise awareness concerning administering millions of pounds of antibiotics annually to artificially boost animal growth. Maryn McKenna wrote a book chronicling the rise and danger of these superbugs (http://superbugthebook.com/).

What is important to note is that a vast majority of the provided antibiotics is not to target infections or better animal health. It is administered at a herd or flock wide basis through the animals water source or feed to promote growth and weight gain, as well as to preventatively help livestock survive harsh farm and living conditions. This is one reason why antibiotics are used, another is for therapy. Therapy is used when farm animals exhibit clinical diseases, and drugs can be an effective way to prevent catastrophic health risks that could be detrimental to the agricultural sector.

Administering antibiotics to animals is not an inherently bad thing to do, although it can become detrimental if done without caution and concern. The FDA’s report on the application of antimicrobial drugs in industry warns that “the development of resistance to this important class of drugs, and the resulting loss of their effectiveness as antimicrobial therapies, poses a serious public health threat”. In this article, the main point is not to suggest entirely eliminating antibiotic consumption in the livestock industry, but to manage it judiciously by targeting specific diseases. Another significant argument is that farmers and food corporations should “voluntarily” withdraw from using drugs which have a functional similarity to drugs used in humans, since this would reduce the concern for transmitting resistive bacteria on to humans through our food. Use of antibiotics for livestock growth promotion has been banned by many European countries, as they have determined that similar investment in more food resulted in the same growth yields without the additional antibiotic resistance generation.

It is evident that we can no longer take how our food is produced for granted. The expression food for thought is no longer some overused metaphor, it is a reality.

Antibiotic Resistance: Are We Winning the Battle, But Losing the War?

Laziness, disillusionment, anger— these are just a few words that come to mind when considering the problem of antibiotic resistance.   From the deliberate misuse of antibiotics in animal feeds, to wide-spread, inappropriate prescriptions for viral infections, the sheer scale of the problem lends itself to feelings of powerlessness and frustration.  For many of us, it’s simply easier to ignore the warning signs and shrug off the future consequences of doing nothing.  Unfortunately, the reality is that people are dying every day—in hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities—from bacteria that were once treated with antibiotic therapy. What were once miracle drugs just a few decades ago—able to eradicate any bacterial infection in the blink of an eye— are now no longer working for a number of infections.  With a lack of good treatment options against resistant strains such as MRSA, enterococci, and c. difficile, frontline health professionals are becoming increasingly alarmed and frightened for future patients.

Read more »

Antibiotic Overuse in Livestock: A Slow Motion Catastrophe

Topping some 29-million pounds per year, antibiotics given to livestock have reached record numbers with no hints of slowing down.  With superbugs and antibiotic resistance on the rise, everywhere, the implications for public health are staggering.  Primary used as a growth enhancing agent in factory farming, antibiotics help to offset the risk of disease among livestock living in cramped and squalid conditions.  While increasing profitability for farmers, this practice also streamlines the creation of resistant strains of bacteria—or superbugs—that ultimately infect human beings and threaten our ability to treat bacterial infections as a whole.  At the current rate of resistance, it’s not impossible to conceive of a future where some infections become untreatable and result in death.

In the agricultural world, most major classes of human antibiotics are well represented—that is everything from penicillins, cephalosporins, macrolides, to aminoglycosides are available for animal use.  These drugs, in their human forms, are used to treat the majority of bacterial illnesses—from strep throat to C. difficile infections.  Considering bacteria’s handy-dandy ability to swap resistance factors, it’s hardly surprising that antibiotics are beginning to lose potency among human patients.  As a 2003 Danish study put it, ‘humans and animals share overlapping reservoirs of resistance [to antibiotics]’.  The same study demonstrated the idea that resistant strains could jump from animals fed antibiotics to humans.  The bacterial strain of choice, an enterococci, which was isolated from human beings was able to demonstrate resistance to one of the strongest, last line antibiotics available to medicine: vancomycin.  Interestingly, after the EU banned the offending feed product, levels of resistance in animals, food, and people began to decrease.  Read more »

The Consequences of Untreated Bacterial Infections: My Strep Throat Story

In June of 2006, after a long bout of strep throat, and an equally long bout of unsuccessful antibiotic therapy, my life took a sudden and dramatic turn for the worse.  Rushed to the hospital with complaints of burning pain, numbness, vertigo, and extreme fatigue, I felt for the first time in my life that I might be dying— that I had a brain tumour or something equally horrible.

Shivering, in a make-shift emergency bed throughout most of the night, I underwent several dozen blood tests, neurological exams, and you name it—everything short of investigative surgery.  The hours passed slowly and painfully, while I lay there dumbfounded.   As morning eventually came and my vital signs were pronounced normal—albeit with signs of nerve damage— I was released into my doctor’s care with the recommendation that I see a neurologist and infectious disease doctor as soon as possible.  My search for a diagnosis had begun.

Read more »

The Human Microbiome Project: Which Bacteria Live Normally In Your Body

In a recent post, I discussed the release of a new drug to combat C. diff. In that post, an important theme was the fact that several types of germs can live in the bodies of humans without causing harm—until our bodies are no longer able to keep such germs in check. But exactly which types of germs live normally in the human body? Well, thanks to the dedication of many brilliant scientists, the Human Microbiome Project answers that question, as it has mapped out specifically which microbes live in the normal human body.

One of the project’s main areas of exploration was aimed at learning more about why certain microbes harm some individuals, but not others. In order to learn more about the various microbes, scientists analyzed the DNA of the many different types of germs. This endeavor involved over 200 scientists affiliated with nearly 80 different research institutions. Five years and $173 million dollars later, we now know more about the 10,000+ species of microbes that reside within the average human body, and how they all work together.

Read more »

How Ondine Biomedical Addresses A World Of Growing Antibiotic Resistance

In 1969, the US Surgeon General William Stewart declared that the human race had won the war against bacteria. It was thought that bacteria would never be able to figure out how to develop resistance to the new complex antibiotics that had been created and that scientific researchers would always be able to stay well ahead of the bacteria. Today, it is well known that bacteria have reversed this situation and that the antibiotic resistance war is far from being over.

It is estimated that there are about 17 million people in the US alone annually suffering from painful and potentially harmful biofilm infections. To me and my colleagues at Ondine, we understand that certain bacteria have become dangerous and remain a threat to all of us. Every single one of us knows of a person who died, or nearly died, of an infection. Many of these people have died from infections acquired while in hospitals, a place where most of us think is safe. This just was not the case 20 years ago. This prevalence of deadly infections could not have been expected in 1969.  Our society’s overuse and misuse of antibiotics (over 25 million pounds of antibiotics are given to livestock every year) have led to greater threats to humanity. At the same time, the enormous costs and regulatory burdens have led to fewer new antibiotics being developed. Clearly the battle rages and we as humans have not been very strategic about our critical weapons. Read more »

The Growing Temptation to Underreport Healthcare-associated Infections

Over the past decade, there has been much written about the rise of antibiotic resistant pathogens and the growing numbers of serious healthcare-associated infections. Some statistics have put the total cost of healthcare-associated infections at around $35-$45 billion dollars1. Infections associated with MRSA have been estimated to cost about $3-$4 billion2 and ventilator-associated pneumonia costs another $3 billion3. The truth is that we really do not know the extent of the problem or the associated costs, and this in itself is a problem. Whatever the number, we can all agree that the costs of healthcare-associated infections are an enormous drain on the economy, and this is prior to factoring in any of the socio-economic multiplier effects of HAIs due to death, loss of employment, impact on families/companies etc.

Read more »

Antibiotic Resistance: How A Global Health Problem Develops

The public sphere has been pumped full of information about how unnecessary use of antibiotics contributes to the development of resistant bacterial strains. Just take a look at this news article suggesting that more than 25 million pounds of antibiotics are given to livestock every year. However, what is less often explained is how this works at the molecular level. How does bacteria develop antibiotic resistance?

The World Health Organization has called antibiotic resistance one of the greatest global health concerns to date.

Before answering that question it is important to understand how bacterial cells work. Bacterial cells look and work differently than say a cell from our body. They have a genetic code (within DNA) but some of that code floats freely within the cell in circular structures called plasmids. One of the particularities of bacterial cells is their ability to pass plasmids amongst each other (plasmid transfer), allowing them to share traits on an extremely rapid scale. Furthermore, one bacterium can divide into two cells without the need for sexual reproduction between two parent cells.

Like us, bacteria survive on chemical based processes, which allow them to grow and replicate. Protein molecules are essential to these processes. They allow for three things:

  • Destroy/change other molecules
  • Form physical structures and barriers
  • Help build new molecules

Read more »

Dr. Cale Street, Vice President of Research, Profiled On CEO Clips

Ondine would like to congratulate Dr. Cale Street for being profiled on national TV via CEO Clips. In this video, Dr. Street touches upon the seriousness of antibiotic resistant superbugs and Ondine’s solution to this growing problem. MRSAidTM is a novel, non-antibiotic system designed to reduce the incidence of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). In the US alone, more than 99,000 people die every year as a result of HAIs.

MRSAidTM is currently being used at Vancouver General Hospital on patients undergoing select surgeries in order to reduce their risk of developing post surgical site infections.  Since MRSAidTM does not generate bacterial resistance, this is a critical milestone in the fight against HAIs and antibiotic resistant superbugs. Click here to watch another video of MRSAidTM and Dr. Cale Street being featured on Canadian national news.

The Three Myths About Photodisinfection

I’ve talked before about how photodisinfection works, but I want to take a moment to clarify what I think are the three most common myths about the technology we’re working on here at Ondine.

It’s Not That New

Our products are often met with scepticism because people are unfamiliar with photodisinfection as a treatment, or even as a science.  Truth be told, photodisinfection has existed for over 100 years[i], and the research behind it has a solid foundation in the literature extending back well over 20 years.  Check out this short reference list if you don’t believe me. So why, with all this research, is photodisinfection only creeping into the marketplace now?  The simple answer is that, until Ondine, most companies have been a little hesitant to put the work in to make it a success.  Photodisinfection requires a lot from a company: an engineering team for a light source, a microbiology team for the preclinical tests, a chemistry team for the careful formulation of the photosensitizer and a regulatory team to get the product cleared for use in trials and approved clinical use.  When you add in quality control, finance, administration, and sales and marketing, you can see the inherent challenges facing a company. You can trust me that the science is there (and growing), and Ondine has proven that it has what it takes to make these products a reality.

Read more »

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Staypressed theme by Themocracy