Because they help us fight bacterial infections, antibiotics are an amazing invention that has let us greatly improve our quality of life and life expectancy. However, their overuse has led to some extremely dangerous pathogens — antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Specifically, last fall it was found that more than 2 million people in the U.S. get infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and at least 23,000 people die from the infection. But there are two new antibiotic drugs on the horizon — they should be available in mere months — that have been shown to be effective against some common antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Both of the new drugs — Dalvance (dalbavancin) and Oritavancin — can fight methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections and other skin infections. Last fall, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified MRSA as being among 12 microorganisms that have a “serious” threat level. Impressively, a single dose of Oritavancin can effectively fight a MRSA infection (while most antibiotics, if they can be used against MRSA at all, require multiple days of treatment). A single-dose treatment like this should clearly cut down on the time that a patient with an antibiotic-resistant infection spends in a hospital, which is where antibiotic-resistant microorganisms can easily spread to vulnerable patients and cause serious (and ongoing) problems.
Dalvance is an intravenous drug that works on skin and other soft tissue infections, and received FDA-approval last month. Oritavancin, which is a lipoglycopeptide that was successfully used in a clinical trial to treat MRSA infections using a single dose, has not yet received approval, but is expected to as early as August.
While it’s vital to have new antibiotics that are effective against antibiotic-resistant critters, it’s important to keep in mind that overusing them remains a serious problem, not just for creating more antibiotic-resistant microorganisms, but also for damaging our own microbiomes.
For further reading:
- G. Ralph Corey et al.’s article “Single-Dose Oritavancin in the Treatment of Acute Bacterial Skin Infections” in The New England Journal of Medicine
- FDA’s announcement that the FDA approves Dalvance to treat skin infections
- Rina Shaikh-Lesko’s article “New Antibiotics to Combat Resistant Bugs”
- Teisha J. Rowland’s Biology Bytes article “Fighting Antibiotic Resistance”
- Teisha J. Rowland’s Biology Bytes article “The Importance of ‘The Little Guys:’ Our Gut Microbiome”
- Teisha J. Rowland’s book Biology Bytes: Digestible Essays on Stem Cells and Modern Medicine