24-OCT-2020: AMU faculty's opinion features in Nature article
Aligarh, October 24: "The ever increasing threat of antibacterial resistance will kill millions in the coming decades," warned Professor Asad Ullah Khan, Coordinator, Interdisciplinary Biotechnology Centre, AMU in an article published in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal The Nature (October).
"The problem is terrible and not too far away and I think many governments and funding bodies have not yet understood the scale of what we are facing," he added.
His views, published in Benjamin Plackett's article, 'Why big pharma has abandoned antibiotics. A lack of financial incentive has meant large pharmaceutical companies have left the market', shed light on how antimicrobial resistance will emerge as the next great health crisis.
Speaking after the release of Nature's October edition, Prof Asad alarmed that many drug makers have left the antibacterial research, and many are on the path of exiting because of a lack of profit.
Prof Asad pointed out that the lack of research from big pharma companies is a problem. Each year, millions of people get infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria and a substantial number of people die as a direct result of these infections.
He emphasised that antibiotic resistance appeared almost immediately after the advent of antibiotics.
"To companies, that did not matter for a lot of years because there were always new antibiotics in the pipeline. But that slowed down and almost came to a stop starting about 15 years ago," he said.
Prof Asad added: "Unlike almost every area of drug development, antibiotics will all eventually lose their effectiveness, because bacteria is good at evolving ways to defeat them."
"However, there are ways to tackle antibiotic resistance as there is a hefty research force dedicated to product development of therapeutic treatments, there's also a good chunk of research dedicated to understanding the mechanisms of resistance, including how it happens and how it spreads," he elucidated.
The Nature article explains how since the 1960s, bacteria and other microorganisms have become increasingly resistant to antimicrobial drugs, leading to more and more people dying.
It pointed out that drug-resistant diseases kill around 700,000 people each year, but a WHO, United Nations interagency group on antimicrobial resistance estimates that this could swell to 10 million a year by 2050 if no action is taken. This is more than the number of people who currently die from cancer worldwide every year. Despite the clear need for more antimicrobial agents, such drugs have not been forthcoming.
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