Bioethics Blogs

New Strategies in Battle Against Antibiotic Resistance

Klebsiella pneumoniae Bacteria

Caption: Colorized scanning-electron micrograph showing carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae interacting with a human white blood cell.
Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH

Over the past year, the problem of antibiotic resistance has received considerable attention, with concerns being raised by scientists, clinicians, public health officials, and many others around the globe. These bacteria are found not only in hospitals, but in a wide range of community settings. In the United States alone, antibiotic-resistant bacteria cause roughly 2 million infections per year, and 23,000 deaths [1].

In light of such daunting statistics, the need for action at the highest levels is clear, as is demonstrated by an Executive Order issued today by the President. Fighting antibiotic resistance is both a public health and national security priority. The White House has joined together with leaders from government, academia, and public health to create a multi-pronged approach to combat antibiotic resistance. Two high-level reports released today—the White House’s National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (CARB) and the complementary President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) Report to the President on Combating Antibiotic Resistance—outline a series of bold steps aimed at addressing this growing public health threat.

Research supported by NIH will undoubtedly play a critical role in this effort. Areas in which biomedical science is poised to make progress include improved detection and tracking of pathogens by simple and accurate diagnostics, identification of novel drugs for treating bacterial infections, and development of the next generation of vaccines.

Enhanced surveillance of antimicrobial resistance will draw on cutting-edge genetic sequencing technologies, developed and deployed by the NIH and our colleagues at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.