The alarming development of multi-resistant bacteria is a global health crisis. The fight against antibiotic resistance is ongoing on several fronts and is a major challenge for the pharmaceutical industry. BioStock provides an overview of Swedish projects to develop new antimicrobial therapies in the area.
Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. Excessive use of antibiotics can make the bacteria resistant and immune to the infection treatment.
Intractable infections can be life-threatening and entail high medical costs for society. According to a study published in 2022 in The Lancet, close to five million people died in 2019 as a result of antibiotic resistance. Learn more.
According to a forecast from the WHO, 10 million people a year are at risk of dying as a result of resistant bacteria by 2050. Antibiotic resistance is considered one of the 10 biggest threats to global health. (Fact Sheet, World Health Organization Antibiotic Resistance, 2018).
The alarming development of resistant bacteria means that previously easily treated infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, sepsis, and gonorrhoea – become more difficult to treat when the antibiotics become less effective.
Four types of resistant bacteria
Today, there are several types of bacteria that have developed resistance to the most common varieties of antibiotics. The Public Health Agency of Sweden categorizes four antibiotic-resistant bacteria as generally hazardous that can cause serious infections and therefore should be traced: MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), ESBL (Extended Spectrum Beta- Lactamase), VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococci), and Penicillin-resistant pneumococci (PNSP).
New treatments for antibiotic resistance
The alarming rise of multi-resistant bacteria requires the development of new antimicrobial therapies. The fight against antibiotic resistance takes place on several fronts and there are several Swedish research projects within the area.
A team of infection researchers at Umeå University, led by Professor Felipe Cava and collaborators at Harvard Medical School, has discovered proteins needed to maintain the bacterial cell wall structure that can be utilized for future antibiotics. The discovery has been published in the journal Nature. Learn more.
Another research team at Umeå University and Washington University in St. Louis has discovered a new type of antibiotic, GmPcides, that can be used alone or together with standard antibiotics to fight bacteria including multidrug-resistant pathogens more effectively. The study was presented in the journal PNAS in October 2022. Learn more.
Professor Christian G. Giske and his colleagues at the Department of Laboratory Medicine at Karolinska Institute are researching the possibility of killing bacteria by infecting them with viruses. Learn more.
Medtech company S2Medical has shown positive results with its antibacterial peptides against multi-resistant bacteria. The research on antimicrobial peptides is conducted through external research funding in collaboration with Linköping University, Örebro University and the Luleå University of Technology. Learn more.
Listed companies’ projects against antibiotic resistance
In 2022, the medtech companies Pharmacolog and AcouSort advanced in a collaborative project with UppsalaUniversity Hospital and Skåne University Hospital in Malmö for the development of a system for determining the concentration of antibiotics in the blood of patients treated for severe infection. In the long term, the project can contribute to more effective treatment and reduced risk of developing resistant bacterial strains. Learn more.
Correct and timely dosing of antibiotics can be crucial for patient recovery. The diagnostics company Q-linea has recently received IVDR certification for its test instruments of antibiotic resistance that provide decision support in the treatment of infectious diseases. Learn more.
Bactiguard is a Swedish medtech that develops prevention solutions that reduce the risk of infections and reduce the use of antibiotics. The company increased its revenue in 2022 by 57 percent and has recently received MDR approval.
The pharmaceutical company Infant Bacterial Therapeutics (IBT) has acquired a probiotic drug platform consisting of genetically modified bacteria that, according to the company, can prevent antibiotic-resistant hospital infections. Learn more.
Femtech company Pharmiva has developed antibiotic-free treatments for genital infections that both treat the infection and provide symptom relief. The treatment is without the side-effects typically experienced with today’s antibiotic treatments, impacting both the individual and global health with the development of antibiotic resistance. Learn more.
These projects are a mere overview of efforts underway to overcome multidrug-resistant bacteria. At the end of 2022, the association Läkemedelsindustriföreningen published an action plan against antibiotic resistance, describing a series of measures needed to tackle the development of resistance. Learn more.