A lack of new antibiotics, along with declining investments worldwide, currently hinders the fight against rising drug-resistant infections, according to two reports released by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Sixty products are in the clinical pipeline, and 252 are at preclinical stages of development. But most of the clinical candidates are not active against the major threats of gram-negative bacteria, and the preclinical candidates are still years away from availability, according to the reports.
The Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI), a member of Hackensack Meridian Health, is doing its part in the research underway already. The CDI, helmed by David Perlin, Ph.D., its chief scientific officer and senior vice president, was awarded a $33.3 million grant last year by the National Institutes of Health to develop new antibiotics against drug-resistant bacteria. The CDI hosted the review meeting of its Center of Excellence for Translational Research (CETR) on Dec. 13, in which several promising candidates were discussed.
The WHO reports said such initiatives are vital at this point in the microbiological medical battle.
“Numerous initiatives are underway to reduce resistance, but we also need countries and the pharmaceutical industry to step up and contribute with sustainable funding and innovative new medicines,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the WHO.
The 50 antibiotics (alongside 10 biologics) in the clinical pipeline have limited effects on priority pathogens listed by the WHO in a much-heralded list of 12 classes of bacteria. Thirty-two of the 50 antibiotics target the priority pathogens, but they have only limited benefits compared to existing drugs already available. Just two are active against gram-negative bacteria like Klebsiella pneumoniae and Escherichia coli.
The list of preclinical candidates is more diverse and promising, with 252 agents that are aimed at the WHO’s list of priority pathogens.
But the most optimistic scenario would be the first handful of products to become available in approximately a decade, they added.
“It’s important to focus public and private investment on the development of treatments that are effective against the highly resistant bacteria because we are running out of options,” said Hanan Balkhy, the WHO’s assistant director-general for Antimicrobial Resistance.