Are Microbes Winning the Antibiotic Arms Race?
Eighty-six years after the discovery of penicillin, docs are running out of antibiotics to treat serious infections like Clostridium difficile and gonorrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At the same time, the discovery of new “wonder drugs” has slowed, and microbiologists say drug companies have little incentive to develop new ones. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, and Martin Blaser, author of Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues, discuss the rise of drug resistance and how it affects our health and, possibly, our survival. And Bob Hancock, a microbiologist at the University of British Columbia, discusses a way to disrupt bacterial biofilms, a technique he says could revitalize our antibiotic arsenal.
Tom Frieden is the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.
Martin Blaser is the author of Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics is Fueling Our Modern Plagues (Henry Holt, 2014) and director of the Human Microbiome Program at the New York University School of Medicine in New York, New York.
Bob Hancock is Canada Research Chair and microbiology professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.
Read an excerpt from Missing Microbes.
Christopher Intagliata was Science Friday’s senior producer. He once served as a prop in an optical illusion and speaks passable Ira Flatowese.