Focus on antibiotic development in industry – the week in infectious diseases

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Antimicrobial resistance

This week has seen a focus on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in industry, with a new AMR benchmark published by the Access to Medicine foundation and a report on antibiotic development issued by the DRIVE-AB consortium.

The benchmark, launched at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting (23–26 January, Davos-Klosters, Switzerland), is the first independent analysis of major pharma players on the actions they’re taking to combat AMR. The benchmark reported that nearly half of companies evaluated were involved in efforts to track patterns of drug resistance and with regards to drug development there are 28 antibiotics in the later stages of development targeting priority pathogens. However, only nine of these candidates are truly novel and only two are supported by plans to ensure they can be made accessible and used wisely if they reach the market, suggesting that more must be done.

In addition, a new report, issued by DRIVE-AB, has determined that a market entry reward of US$1 billion per antibiotic globally could significantly increase the number of new antibiotics coming to the market in the next 30 years. However, it stated that all recommended incentives would include a mandatory provision for equitable access and sustainable use in order to ensure these critical antibiotics are available to patients who need them globally, and remain effective over time.

Mosquito-borne disease

In a study this week, published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Susanta Behura from the University of Missouri (MO, USA) and colleagues investigated the abundance of tRNA fragments in the Aedes aegypti mosquito, discovering that expression of tRNA fragments in an infected mosquito could modulate its ability to transmit viral diseases to humans.
Turning to a mosquito-borne disease, it was reported this week that a repurposed hepatitis C drug successfully protected and rescued neural cells in Zika-infected mice and human neural progenitor cells. The drug was also demonstrated to arrest Zika replication in vivo, preventing transmission from mother to fetus in mouse models, potentially presenting a new treatment option for pregnant women in Zika-affected regions.

Finally, this week vaccination campaigns for yellow fever have been initiated in both Nigeria and Brazil.

Influenza

Recent research has reported a universal, nanoparticle vaccine against influenza A that produces long-lasting immunity in mice. A universal vaccine is a top priority for flu, which is having a particularly heavy season this year, with this research presenting a promising approach. The next steps will be to test this vaccine in ferrets.

This week also saw findings from Public Health Ontario (Canada) confirm the link between flu and heart attacks. Specifically they reported that chances of an acute myocardial infarction are increased six-fold during the first 7 days of influenza infection, emphasizing the importance of vaccination in risk populations such as older adults.

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