Need for Speed
On Monday, the World Health Organization released a list of bacteria that it has identified as humans' biggest cause for concern. The list, which includes 12 "priority pathogens" that have "built-in abilities to find new ways to resist treatment," is intended as a nudge for researchers to develop new antibiotics — and fast.
"Antibiotic resistance is growing, and we are fast running out of treatment options," said Marie-Paule Kieny, the WHO's assistant director-general for health systems and innovation. "If we leave it to market forces alone, the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time."
The list, which you can see here, divides the 12 bacteria into three categories of urgency: "critical," "high," and "medium." But all of the listed pathogens present "an enormous threat to human health," The New York Times noted. The "critical" group includes three "multidrug-resistant bacteria that pose a particular threat in hospitals, nursing homes, and other care facilities," Reuters reported.
"We're at a tipping point," said Jean Patel, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specialist who consulted with WHO on the list. "We can take action and turn the tide — or lose the drugs we have."