Published: Thu, March 02, 2017
Sport | By Fredrick Flores

WHO Reveals 12 Superbugs That Pose Greatest Risk To Human Health

The list was drawn up to promote research and development of new antibiotics, the global health agency said, adding that the move was part of efforts to address the problem of growing global resistance to antimicrobial medicines. Among the ideas proposed by O'Neill is a market-entry reward, in which companies that create a new antibiotic would receive up to $1 billion to recoup research and development costs.

The high and medium priority categories contain other increasingly drug-resistant bacteria that cause common diseases such as gonorrhea and food poisoning due to salmonella, according to the WHO. That's why the World Health Organization is releasing this list: to underline the urgent need to think ahead and start working overtime towards developing alternative treatments. The most risky strains have recently acquired resistance to a class of antibiotics called carbapenems, the only group that still killed them effectively. The list is meant to provide guidance to new R&D initiatives, such as the WHO's Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) Global Antibiotic R&D, which is engaged in nonprofit antibiotic developments.

The priorities list is the first time WHO released a list of bacteria strains the health community should become aware of and research a treatment plan to combat what experts believe as the greatest threats to humanity.

WHO's Marie-Paule Kieny said that if such priorities were left to market forces alone, "the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time".

Enne believes the drugs named in these lower groups also require the development of better rapid diagnostics so any resistance can be identified immediately, meaning drugs are not used unnecessarily.

These bacteria are resistant to several antibiotics, like carbapenems and third generation cephalosporins which are considered the best in treating infections. We also need to focus on prevention of infections and just as importantly, on the use of existing antibiotics.

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The WHO said there were 12 "priority pathogens" posing a significant risk to human health, some of which have already evolved into superbugs.

While releasing the list to spur R&D, the World Health Organization emphasizes that more is needed to fight antibiotic resistance-specifically, improved prevention control and appropriate use of antibiotics. However, the study showed how the bacteria listed as "critical priorities" are not affected in a considerable way by the use of the drug in patients.

Gram-negative bugs most frequently affect a person's intestinal tract, which can lead to severe and life-threatening bloodstream infections and pneumonia - particularly among elderly people in nursing homes and hospitals.

The worldwide organization released its rogues' gallery of the unsafe bacteria in an effort to spur incentives programs and get more drugs in the research pipeline.

The threat of drug-resistant superbugs has prompted the authorities to issue public awareness messages on state-run radio channels cautioning patients against taking antibiotics without a prescription.

Superbugs are seen as a growing threat to modern medicine, with the emergence in the past year of infections resistant to even last-resort antibiotics. "A national action plan to tackle it is underway, and should be out anytime", said a senior researcher at the National Centre for Disease Control.

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