Multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacterial infections are becoming increasingly common in the hospital and community setting, emphasizing the need for new orally administered and IV antibiotics that can effectively treat such infections. Spero Therapeutics seeks to address these unmet needs.
Historically, antibiotics have saved millions of lives and eased the suffering of patients. They have been dubbed “wonder drugs” and deserve much of the credit for the dramatic increase in life expectancy in the U.S. and around the world; however, they are not always effective. Over time, bacteria can and have developed resistance to existing drugs, making infections difficult, if not impossible, to treat.
Both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) have identified antibiotic resistance as an increasing threat to global public health. Additionally, world health leaders have stated that antibiotic-resistant microorganisms are “nightmare bacteria” that “pose a catastrophic threat” to people in every country in the world.
Among all of the bacterial resistance challenges, Gram-negative pathogens are particularly worrisome because they are becoming increasingly resistant to nearly every available antibiotic. The most serious Gram-negative infections are healthcare-associated, namely those caused by Enterobacteriaceae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Acinetobacter baumannii, identified as posing serious to urgent threats to public health by the CDC.
A key challenge in treating these infections is that the number of new antibiotics developed and approved has steadily decreased in the past three decades, leaving fewer options to treat resistant bacteria. Only two new classes of antibiotics have been developed in the past 15 years, and it’s been more than 30 years since a new class of antibiotics to treat Gram-negative infections has emerged.
Increase in MDR Pathogens in Community Settings
While a majority of life-threatening infections resulting from antibiotic-resistant bacteria are historically acquired in the hospital setting, there is a rising incidence of multi-drug resistant (MDR) pathogens in the community setting. This has resulted in decreased susceptibility to standard oral options and an increase in avoidable hospitalizations, along with the costs and risks associated with this.
Currently, there are no oral antibiotics commercially available that can be used in adults with MDR Gram-negative bacterial infections. This limits the ability for physicians to treat these infections without hospitalizing their patients to receive IV antibiotics. In addition, not having an oral option at discharge often delays the transition of care from hospital to home.
The limitations of existing therapies and traditional drug development approaches highlights the critical need for novel therapies, and in particular orally-administered agents, that are capable of overcoming these obstacles to effective patient treatment.
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(Blog post authored by Ankit Mahadevia)