NEW THERAPIES MEAN NEW
WAYS TO ATTACK INFECTIONS

A Point of View by Todd Black, Ph.D., executive director,
Infectious Diseases

The time has come to change tactics in the fight against drug-resistant infections.
 

Todd Black

In my career, I’ve reviewed case reports featuring images of patients with severe systemic mold infections, often manifested by skin lesions and mushroom-like fruiting bodies, as well as the devastating effects of the aggressive surgery that some of these patients must undergo in order to survive. Seeing this makes one realize just how important it is to find new, non-surgical therapies to treat these difficult infections.

Luckily, these fungal infections, which have limited treatment options, are relatively rare. However, for more common bacterial infections, a similar lack of treatment options is also becoming a reality, due the development and spread of antibiotic resistance.

Focusing on new approaches

The time has come to change tactics in the fight against drug-resistant infections as well as helping to preserve existing treatment options. It is critical that we find new approaches, but the path of discovery has proven to be more challenging than scientists and researchers have imagined. Unfortunately, we may continue to be humbled by the possibility that a new “penicillin” will never be created or discovered again. It is important that we focus on understanding the bacterial barriers, defenses and the chemical properties that are required to selectively kill the pathogens.

One alternative is to better understand and then attempt to modulate the host's response to an infection. As we learn more about the body’s immune responses, the possibility improves for finding different ways to help the body fight the infection.

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