Gripes with Antibiotic Resistance Research
Thanks ASM, I enjoyed attending my first Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC). Getting out of the lab was enjoyable, but upon hearing all the talks about antibiotic resistance I became more anxious with getting back to the lab. But you know what grinds my gears? Why all the concern with betalactamases?!
Outside of virology and fungal disease, I would estimate that 80% of all the posters and presentations were either NDM-1, OXA, BLA, or ESBL related. We have developed numerous classes of antibiotics outside of penicilins and carbapenems, and yet we focus so much of our attention on this single class.
I don’t refute that betalactam antibiotics were once an incredible tool for treating nosocomial infections. But our obsession with these antibiotics seems to be hindering forward progress. Therapy is already so limited when treating Klebsiella, Acinetobacter, or Pseudomonas, and as soon as colistin resistance becomes more prevalent, we’re done for. Didn’t we learn not to put all of our eggs in one basket? ESBL’s (Extended Spectrum Betalactamases) are a prime example of how we jam packed our basket with eggs.
I propose that we focus on other classes of antibiotics; macrolides, tetracyclines, quinolones, aminoglycosides, etc. Resistance to these antibiotics may be enzyme mediated, and although various inhibitors have been found for betalactamases, few, if none, have been found for those that mediate resistance to the other classes of antibiotics. We can improve therapy options for patients if we expand our areas of research.
Come on microbiologists. Get out of your ESBL studying niche, lives are at stake.