The World Health Organization has signaled for help in defeating a group of notorious villains.
They are the superbugs - bacteria with the ability to overcome our best defenses. The WHO published a list Feb. 27 prioritizing 12 bacterial strains in need of new antibiotics. The list is designed to encourage research and development into such drugs - the new superheroes.
The world needs these treatments: In the United States, antibiotic-resistant bacteria infect two million people and kill 23,000 each year, primarily those who are hospitalized or have weakened immunity. But these species are usually harmless, living among and within us.
Dr. Ashley Robinson, professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, studies methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, one of WHO's “high” priority pathogens. One in five people carry benign S. aureus strains in their nose, while one in 50 people have a MRSA.
“What causes the switch from susceptible to resistant is a huge area of research,” he said.