Skip to comments.New antibiotics: what's the hold up?
Posted on 03/19/2013 9:19:09 PM PDT by neverdem
If youre an editor in need of a medical headline to fill out some column space, I can recommend New antibiotics needed, experts warn. Dont worry if you dont have all the details: experts are always warning about that, and unfortunately, theyre always right. That headlines been valid for years now, and it looks like it will be good for quite a few more.
Now, why should that be? Heres a large market, with a substantial unmet need thats doing nothing but growing over time. Why arent the pharma research labs stepping up to fill it? You can get several answers to that question, naturally. One will always feature the declining number of companies said to be working in the area. Another will point out that any new antibiotic will immediately be reserved for serious, resistant cases, and thus has little chance of capturing a large market (yet). These both come down to Because companies cant make enough money at it, which doesnt make them sound very responsible, does it?
I can tell you, though, another reason that may sound like an excuse, but isnt. One reason we dont have new antibiotics against resistant bacteria is that finding one is extremely difficult. Having tried it myself a few times, I can testify on the basis of personal experience. Youd think that killing bacteria would be a great field to work in. Youre not trying to delicately tweak some pathway in human cells no, you can pick some bacterial target that higher organisms dont even have, and then hit it as hard as youd like. And you have fast, utterly reliable in vitro assays to see how youre doing, which can be followed up by highly predictive animal models. No fiddling around with engineered mice and surrogate endpoints: you go right to the main question of whether the bacteria are dying. So whats so difficult?
Whats so difficult is that bacteria are completely unlike the human cells that most drugs target. The cells in our bodies live in gated communities, surrounded by their friends and relatives. They have their food delivered to them, they have their waste hauled away, and they have a standing army ready to protect them. This has allowed them to devote themselves to the specialisation that keeps us all walking around. But bacteria are generalists. They have to be, living in a constant Hobbesian war of all against all. Theyre fighting for their food, for living space, and against constant attempts by their neighbours to kill them off.
Those neighbours include us. Weve exerted the most concentrated Darwinian selection pressure we could manage on the pathogenic strains. And that leaves the surviving bacteria equipped with a wide (and constantly evolving) array of defensive measures against just the sorts of attacks wed like to mount against them.
I realised after my first exposure to antibiotic drug discovery that Id never had any problem generating cytotoxic compounds against mammalian cells. Happened all the time not that I wanted it to, of course. But killing bacteria, especially fully armed wild-type bacteria? That was a major event. And even then, most of the compounds you find that can accomplish that will do the same thing to your own cells, which is definitely not the idea.
And that brings up another question about those bacterial targets, the ones that are so orthogonal to human cellular pathways. A disturbing number of them have already been the subject of screening efforts and optimisation attempts without success. They also seem to be a bit orthogonal to the kinds of structures that medicinal chemists make. There are antibiotics with reasonable-looking structures, but theyre outnumbered by natural-product-derived beasts, complex structures no one would have gotten around to synthetically for another few hundred years otherwise. Perhaps these kinds of things are needed to get in through the bacterial membranes, or needed to avoid being pumped right back out, but it does complicate ones research.
This all means, its sad to say, that the limiting factor in antibiotic drug discovery probably isnt the amount of money to be made at it. Thats too bad. Moneys a factor that could be adjusted by regulatory agencies, governments, and foundations. But no amount of cash will keep resistant bacteria from being the hard targets they are.
There’ll be a lot more of this.
The studies being done now are, generally speaking, why do lesbians drink more than everyone else? And why are lesbians obese?
There’s no incentive nor motivation to practice innovative medicine.
In some years ahead there’ll be MD shortages that will make the gay marriage question look like the joke of a problem that it is.
We have a health care system that isn’t. It is a system which thrives on sick people being and staying sick.
BO’s takeover will only make it exponentially worse, but he took It over only because it does not work, it is weak.
Case: Cancer esp breast cancer at higher rate than ever - they don’t search for the cause C+BCPs and abortion are most definitely associated with a risk of Breast CA; depression and the incidence of medically treated- not cured- depression - high- ridiculous rates of obesity- so out of control that pure dopes in government are taking on the issue- heart disease increasing among women.
Just to name a few issues our medical system refuses to fix to their own demise.
And the new Cyberwarfare rules make it illegal to aim attacks at hospitals, nuclear power plants, dams, and dykes.
Not only are we trying to protect them from alcohol and fat, we're also trying to protect the scissor-kickers from spam and phishing attacks!