Antibiotic Resistance

The rapid emergence of drug-resistant bacteria poses a serious threat to world health and underscores the importance of developing new antibiotics. A particularly threatening group of pathogens causing serious hospital infections has been coined “ESKAPE” (Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumanii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacter species) as they are able to “escape” the effects of antibacterial drugs. Estimations of mortality from resistant bacterial infections are imprecise, but are reported to be as high as 25 000 deaths in Europe each year. Among the ESKAPE pathogens, methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant E. faecium (VRE) have emerged as two of the most troubling owing to the staggering cost of hospital care and limited treatment options for individuals infected with these organisms. At present >80% of E. faecium isolates from hospital-associated infections in the United States are resistant to vancomycin while in the Netherlands (a country with approximately 80 hospitals) 31 hospitals have reported VRE outbreaks in the past three years. Clearly, new antibiotics that operate via novel modes of action are urgently needed to counter the growing problem of drug-resistant bacteria.