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Call to action: Running out of options to fight ever-changing 'super bugs'
Date:1/28/2009

ays to beat antibiotic weapons.

"We have run out of options. The promise of genomics has not panned out. Gene sequencing has not helped us find a better way to fight these bugs," said Murray, holder of the J. Ralph Meadows Professorship in Internal Medicine at the medical school. Genomics is the study of an organism's genomes to chart its DNA sequencing.

According to the IDSA's 2004 report, the research on new antibiotics is simply drying up, in part due to the expense of bringing a new drug to market. "The pharmaceutical companies, like all other publicly traded industries, must deliver to its shareholders in order to justify their continued investment. The unique nature of antibiotics makes securing investments challenging. Because antibiotics work so well and so fast, they produce a weak return on investment for manufacturers. Antibiotics are commonly prescribed for seven to 14 days," the report said.

"Academics can't do it all. Pharmaceutical companies can't do it all. Everyone needs to work together to address this potential worldwide public health crisis," said Arias, co-author of the perspective and assistant professor in infectious diseases at the medical school.

Delay in diagnosis is also an issue. Murray said even with advancements, it takes about 48 hours or more from the time a culture is taken to determine what a person may have contracted and to determine what antibiotics are likely to be effective. "It may not sound like a lot of time, but with some of these bugs you have to move quickly to save a patient. You don't want the bacteria to spread. Research needs to include finding new testing methods," Murray said.

The Division of Infectious Diseases at the UT Medical School is already working toward solutions. It has now established the Laboratory for Antimicrobial Research, headed by Arias, within the Center for the Study of Emerging and Re-Emerging Pathogens, headed by Murray. The laboratory, which is su
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Contact: Melissa McDonald
Melissa.E.McDonald@uth.tmc.edu
713-500-3308
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Source:Eurekalert

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