The Antibiotic Resistance Crisis

Antimicrobial resistance refers to the ability of microorganisms to mutate and become immune to standard-of-care antibiotic medications that were once effective.

For the past 70 years, antibiotics have been used to treat infectious bacterial diseases; however, several factors, including the overuse and misuse of antibiotic agents, have led to the spread of resistant bacteria, posing a serious global health risk. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes antimicrobial resistance as “a global health emergency that will seriously jeopardize progress in modern medicine,” and cautions that a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries such as skin or soft tissue injuries can kill, is a very real possibility for the 21st Century.

While antibiotic resistance can occur naturally as bacteria evolve and mutate, inappropriate use of antibiotics is greatly exacerbating the problem. Antibiotics are often prescribed and/or used for non-bacterial, viral infections such as the common cold or flu, against which they are not effective.

One particular concern among experts is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. This strain of bacteria, which in the past was primarily burdensome in the hospital setting, has evolved over the past 40 years and can now occur following minor injuries. The economic impact of MRSA is serious, as the average cost of a related infection is approximately $35,000.

In 2015, the WHO released results of a global survey, which found that while many governments are committed to addressing the problem of antimicrobial resistance, there are major gaps in actions needed to prevent the misuse of antibiotics and reduce the spread of resistance. The survey also identified specific factors that drive antibiotic resistance, including:

  • Sales of antibiotics without prescription in countries lacking standard treatment guidelines;
  • Low public awareness of the issue;
  • Lack of programs to prevent and control hospital-acquired infections and;
  • Abundance of poor-quality medications.

No major new types of antibiotics have been developed in the last 30 years (World Health Organization, Antimicrobial Resistance: Global Report on Surveillance 2014). In a 2017 report, the WHO warned that the world is running out of antibiotics, and that many new antibiotics in development are too similar to existing antibiotic classes. Consequently, those investigational antibiotics are unlikely to work against many current types of resistance, rendering them essentially useless in the long term. Meanwhile, key regulatory authorities, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, have encouraged the development of newer, more effective drugs to treat antibiotic infections.

TAXIS is responding to the global antimicrobial resistance crisis by developing new classes of antibiotic agents to treat life-threatening, multidrug-resistant bacterial infections caused by pathogens such as MRSA and many Gram-negative bacteria, such as Pseudomonas. We have identified and patented multiple new classes of proprietary agents that exploit novel mechanisms of bactericidal action distinct from any other antibiotics in clinical use today.