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AMR is a bigger killer than HIV/AIDS and malaria

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Source: MakeLemonade.nz

Geneva – Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites adapt over time and stop responding to medicines.

Their resistance to drugs makes infections harder to treat, increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.

The world has an opportunity to improve global awareness and understanding of AMR and find solutions to the silent pandemic.

The World Economic Forum says the looming health catastrophe that could be more deadly than covid.

Antimicrobial resistance is a top-10 global public health threat, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Superbug, drug-resistant bugs, could kill millions of people every year, with the damage to health potentially dwarfing covid, according to the AMR Action Fund.

 Resistance is increasing, partly because antimicrobials have been overused since their discovery, and also due to poor sanitation and hygiene.

Antimicrobial resistance now causes more deaths than HIV/AIDS and malaria worldwide, says study

A paper published in The Lancet revealed that antimicrobial-resistant infections caused 1.27 million deaths and were associated with 4.95 million deaths in 2019.

This places the number of antimicrobial-resistance deaths higher than from HIV/AIDS and malaria that year combined.

If, as the AMR action fund has predicted, antimicrobial-resistance deaths reach 10 million per year by 2050, this would even overtake cancer as a leading cause of death worldwide.

If the world is to control antibiotic resistance we need to think about antimicrobial therapy in new ways. One method is to tackle disease-causing bacteria selectively, without killing them.

Most bacteria don’t need to cause disease to survive, so if treatments aren’t designed to kill them then the selection for resistant mutants will be weak, meaning they can continue to live while causing no harm.

Alternatively, experts could target the genes bacteria require to cause disease, making them harmless without interfering with bacterial growth. The world can find new drugs that bacteria have not yet encountered or will find challenging to overcome.

Generative AI models produce hypotheses about the final molecule needed for a specific new drug. These models don’t just search for known molecules with relevant properties, they are powerful enough to learn features of the underlying data and can suggest new molecules that have not yet been synthesised.

In an effort to mobilise the private sector to tackle drug resistance, for the last five years, the Access to Medicine Foundation has tracked how the biggest companies in the antibiotic market have tackled the rise of resistance and the global need for access to antibiotics.