Skip to Main Content

What if another devastating pandemic came on the heels of Covid-19?

Unfortunately, that looks increasingly possible. For years, the antibiotics used to fight various bacterial infections have grown gradually less effective. If current trends continue, these antibiotics could stop working altogether in the near future, leaving humanity vulnerable to deadly, drug-resistant “superbugs.”


Preventing this public health threat will require an aggressive, federally backed effort to develop new and more potent antibiotics. As the Biden administration begins thinking about pandemic preparedness, it should focus on jump-starting innovation in developing new antimicrobial drugs.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT+ and enjoy your first 30 days free!

  • Traditional methods of trying to outrun bacterial antibiotic resistance by just throwing more antibiotics at bacteria is like trying to fight a battle you know you are likely to lose.

    Antibiotics may have seemed like a miracle cure in the 1940’s, but at some point in the near future the human race is going to hit a dead-end in this path of developing antibiotics.

    If the recent COVID-19 pandemic should have reminded us something – is that organisms based around cell biology are extremely susceptible to viruses and viral mutations, and only complex immune systems can efficiently adapt to fight them. Bacterial defense mechanisms against viral infection would be limited if they would be bombarded with engineered viruses specifically targeting harmful bacteria.

    Synthetically modified viruses, similar to recent viral vector vaccines against COVID, would be introduced into the human body and would search out their target bacterium. They could be a replicating virus that destroys bacteria from the inside or a virus that modifies the genetic code of a bacteria(like eliminating certain critical genes from its DNA which would make it harmless and spread within bacteria populations).

    These could be bio-engineered viruses or modified bacteriophages mass produced in laboratory controlled environments. Some bacteriophages(Caudovirales) already resemble mini bio-robots.

    This is something that is already being evaluated in certain global studies, but a worldwide effort will be needed to make it a medical reality, and it has far more potential than trying to outrun antibiotic resistance.

Comments are closed.