According to World Health Organization, “Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of a microorganism (like bacteria, viruses, and some parasites) to stop an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials) from working against it” As a result, common life-saving treatments like caesareans will be potentially fatal, infections persist and may spread to others.
"Superbug" is a term used to describe strains of bacteria that are resistant to most antibiotics commonly used today. Resistant bacteria that cause pneumonia, urinary tract infections and skin infections are just a few of the routine dangers now faced by modern society.
Antibiotic resistance is a naturally occurring phenomenon that can be slowed, but not stopped. Over time, bacteria adapt to the drugs that are designed to kill them and change and adapt to ensure their survival. This makes previously standard treatments for bacterial infections less effective, and in some cases, completely ineffective
Certain actions may accelerate the emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as:
- Using or misusing antibiotics.
- Over prescribing of antibiotics
- Poor infection prevention and control practices
- Living or working in unsanitary conditions
- Mishandling of food
By 2050, it is estimated that infections due to “superbugs” will result in more than 10 million deaths a year and impact the global economy by more than $100T. Polyamyna Nanotech Inc. is working to develop the next-generation of antimicrobial technologies to battle the superbug pandemic which has been compared in scope to the challenge of global warming.
Where and how did this all start?
Bacteria—the microscopic organisms all around us—are essential for life. Bacteria produce the oxygen that we breathe. They help digest food in our guts. They are the microscopic agents that constantly move nutrients throughout ecosystems everywhere on earth. Bacteria can live without humans, but humans cannot survive without bacteria. However, some bacteria are harmful and can lead to infections that, if not treated, could turn deadly, and in fact, many were deadly until the discovery of antibiotics. The introduction of penicillin in the 1940s, which began the era of antibiotics, has been recognized as one of the greatest advances in therapeutic medicine and has saved countless lives.
Antibiotics also have a flip side. Widespread use of antibiotics has led to strains of bacteria that have become resistant to drugs. Without the ability to treat the infections occurring from the resistant forms of bacteria, even routine hospital stays can become deadly.
Impact on every economic and social stratum.
Every four minutes, a person will die from a bacterial infection caused by resistant bacteria. At least 700,000 people across the world (25,000 patients in Europe, 23,000 patients in the USA, and 2,000 patients in Canada) die each year as a result of antibiotic-resistant infections. Antibiotic-resistant infections raise direct healthcare costs by at least $20 billion per year and result in up to $35 billion a year in lost productivity (in the USA only) because of hospitalizations and sick days. In Canada, total medical care costs associated with drug-resistant bacteria are estimated at $1 billion annually. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, the inability to treat antibiotic-resistant microbes could lead to 10 million deaths per year, with a cumulative health care cost of US$100 trillion by 2050.
Antimicrobial misuse in Canada is a pervasive and growing problem. With approximately 23.8 million antibiotic prescriptions written annually, it is estimated that as much as 50% of antimicrobial use is inappropriate. This misuse of antibiotics contributes to resistant strains of bacteria (superbugs) that are difficult and expensive to treat.
The growing problem of antibiotic resistance will impact everyone. Without the ability to treat infections occurring from drug-resistant strains, even a simple infection from a small cut, or the eating of contaminated food can lead to fatal outcomes.