Here’s some good news from the front lines of our war with bacteria: Scientists have found a far more promising cure for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. MRSA is a “superbug” often acquired in hospitals and has, until now, required a complex treatment. Whereas the old treatment took ten days and often required a hospital visit, the new antibiotic, called Orbactiv, is something better: It can be taken as a single dose, remains in one’s system for a long time, and does not require patients to return to hospitals and risk infecting others.The WHO has already warned that newly formidable bacteria are a global threat, citing the prevalence of drug-resistant strains of e. coli and gonorrhea, among others.However, developing new drugs is becoming more difficult and more expensive all the time. Megan McArdle writes about the difficulty of finding new drugs here. She quotes a researcher in the field, who says frankly:
If there ever was a field of drug discovery where the low-hanging fruit has been picked clean, it is antibiotic research. You have to use binoculars to convince yourself that there’s any more fruit up there at all.
That’s hardly encouraging. At least, as this recent discovery shows, sometimes we beat the odds.