Drug-resistant bacteria kill hundreds of thousands every year. Polish company working on a method to inhibit the growth of ‘super-bacteria’.
Medicine lags behind the evolution of super-bacteria resistant to many types of drugs. As reported by the WHO, every year these bacteria kill 700,000 people – by 2050, this might be 10 million. Polish scientists want to prevent that by introducing a high-precision diagnostic system to develop complete bacterial resistance profiles.
“To detect an infection is one thing, but to cure a condition induced by a drug-resistant bacterium is a whole different story. This has grown into such a problem now all around the world, that the media have taken interest and many people have heard about it or know it from the experiences of their families or friends. With infections becoming more and more difficult to treat, a simple infection of the upper respiratory tract may confine you to hospital bed for several weeks at best,” said Piotr Garstecki, CEO of Scope Fluidics, in an interview with the Newseria Innowacje information agency.
The incidence of infections from drug-resistant bacteria is on the rise in Poland. Last year, as many as 1,700 patients caught the New Delhi superbacterium, and in January eight people in Pomerania were diagnosed with the OXA-48 type Klebsiella pneumoniae, a bacterium immune to even the strongest antibiotics. This is in addition to a tuberculosis epidemic that has broken out behind Poland’s eastern border, in Ukraine. Each day, the bacterium leads to twenty deaths and 120 infected patients. Antibiotics are losing the battle against bacteria.
The expert believes this is largely due to the medical industry which hasn’t had any business incentive to undertake research on a new generation of antibiotics. There has been this misconception that since antibiotic therapies are so effective, there’s no need for research centres to keep on coming up with new medications. Over the last 20-30 years, the pharmaceutical industry failed to promptly respond to the increasing drug resistance among bacteria.
“The same goes for diagnostic systems – there has been no economic impulse to spur the development of systems that would provide detailed information on bacteria drug-resistance. The systems currently in place only give details on a limited number of antibiotics and this information is incomplete in that it doesn't include the so-called actual MIC levels or the exact concentration of a bacterial growth-inhibiting antibiotic. Instead, it is just a simplified classification into drug-resistant and drug-sensitive bacteria,” Piotr Garstecki notes.
Therefore, when confronted with drug-resistant bacteria, such information is of little use. In order to administer an effective, targeted therapy and make an informed choice as to the antibiotic, the physician must know all about bacteria’s drug-resistance and, consequently, the effectiveness of specific medications. A system to provide an appropriate solution in this regard is being developed by a Polish company.
“In the BacterOMIC project, we have used micro-flows to achieve a tenfold increase in the number of incubation chambers fitted onto a disposable cartridge, as compared to the current market leader. This should be enough to provide the physician with all the required information. The key benefit for the patient would be faster access to an effective therapy – rather than being administered an antibiotic on an empirical or experimental basis, the patient will receive a drug picked specifically to kill the bacteria which caused the infection. It is an element of response to the excessive use of antibiotics,” the expert believes.
According to estimates by Evaluate, by 2022 the value of the global medical technologies market will exceed USD 520 bn.
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