Re-engineering the microbiome

The traditional technological model of the pharma industry – finding small molecules that bind to big molecules and alter their activity – is dying. There simply aren’t enough undrugged proteins left to support the pharma and biotech industries under this paradigm. That particular gold mine is playing out, and it’s time to find a new one. Read More …

What is the future of the biotechnology industry?

Historically, biotech has functioned under the same discovery paradigm as pharma — the one drug: one protein: one disease paradigm. Diseases are thought to be caused by the misfunctioning of a protein. The disease is addressed by finding a ligand which binds to that protein, causing it to behave in a manner more compatible with Read More …

What would the CDC or the government do if there was a massive outbreak of an antibiotic-resistant disease?

If there was indeed a massive outbreak of antibiotic resistant bacterial infections, the government and CDC would do little or nothing. Why? Because they no longer function in any recognizable form. A severe outbreak of bacterial disease could only happen if these institutions have collapsed. Antibiotics are not critical to keeping society safe from bacterial Read More …

Is there any other organism than ourselves who can perform transactions (services or goods)?

Mutualism – the exchange of services or goods between one species and another – is the rule, not the exception, in biology. Few organisms – most certainly not humans – could exist in a biological desert devoid of all organisms but themselves. Plants produce oxygen that animals use to oxidize carbohydrates to produce carbon dioxide Read More …

Staph aureus and the neighborhood watch

Of all the bad bugs, S. aureus – Staph – is accounted among the worst. Several hundred thousand Americans suffer severe Staph infections every year and 30,000 die. If any bacterium deserves to be classified as a pest and a killer, a microbial reprobate beyond redemption, it is surely the grape-clustered golden spheres of Staphylococcus aureus. But few bugs Read More …

What changes should be made to existing drug approval legislation to aid antibiotic development?

Congress has been responsive to calls for incentivizing antibiotic development. Legislators from both parties are comfortable with voting to relax regulatory barriers, increase tax credits, and extend patent protection in the service of stimulating new drug development. The GAIN Act of 2012 extends patent exclusivity of qualified new antibiotics for five years, and creates a fast-track/high-priority review Read More …

Does resistance to antivirulence therapy develop more slowly than antibiotic resistance?

Antivirulence therapies were among the very first scientific medicines. In the 1880’s Emil von Behring and Kitasato Shibasaburo developed antiserum therapies for diphtheria and tetanus. These antisera, when injected into patients, neutralized bacterial toxins without killing the bacteria. They cut the case fatality rates for these terrible diseases in half, and von Behring (but not the darker-skinned Kitasato) was recognized with the Read More …