Innovation deficit jeopardizes antibiotic effectiveness and health improvements

According to the World Health Organization's annual pipeline report, the development of novel antibiotic treatments is not enough to combat the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

Innovation deficit jeopardizes antibiotic effectiveness and health improvements

The clinical and preclinical antibacterial pipeline is described as static and far from addressing global demands in the 2021 study. Only 12 antibiotics have been licensed since 2017, and 10 of those are part of classes that already have established antimicrobial resistance mechanisms (AMR).

Dr Hanan Balkhy, WHO Assistant Director-General for AMR, stated that "there is a significant gap in the discovery of antibacterial medicines, and more so in the development of creative treatments." This poses a significant obstacle to combating the growing antibiotic resistance pandemic and makes all of us more susceptible to bacterial diseases, even the most basic ones.

The number of new antibiotics being developed in clinical trials against priority diseases dropped from 31 in 2017 to just 27 in 2021, according to WHO's yearly analysis. The quantity of products in the preclinical stage—before clinical trials can begin—has stayed largely consistent over the previous three years.

According to the paper, 45 of the 77 antibacterial drugs are conventional direct-acting small molecules and 32 are non-traditional agents, out of the 77 antibacterial compounds currently under clinical development. For instance, bacteriophages, which are viruses that may kill bacteria, and monoclonal antibodies are examples of the latter. Since antibiotics are currently only effective for a finite amount of time before drug resistance develops, unconventional methods present fresh opportunities to attack infections brought on by drug-resistant bacteria from various angles because they can be used in conjunction with or in place of conventional treatments.