Way Worse Than COVID: This Is the End of the Road for Antibiotics

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are wreaking havoc and are increasingly challenging medical professionals seeking to treat even the simplest infections. Will humanity end up regressing a century – or will science succeed in reinventing itself?

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An illustration of drug-resistant Salmonella bacteria.Credit: James Archer / CDC
Netta Ahituv
Netta Ahituv
Netta Ahituv
Netta Ahituv

Exactly five years have passed since the moment the world of medicine most feared became reality. In the spring of 2016, in Pennsylvania, a 49-year-old woman suffering from an infection was attacked by a bacterium bearing the gene scientists had feared: MCR-1. It was the first time a bacterium with this gene had been discovered in a human being. The bad news: The bacterium was resistant to the strongest antibiotic that existed, colistin. The worse news was that it could easily transmit that resistance to other bacteria.

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