‘Superbugs’, or bacteria that have developed antibiotic resistance as a result of adapting to the drugs used in their treatment, are dangerous infections that doctors struggle to stop from spreading. Even common infections such as urinary tract infections and pneumonia are susceptible to developing antibiotic resistance as bacteria can evolve quickly and share freely with other strains via plasmids. As a result, and in a twist on evolution, the strongest survive, and thrive against the drugs meant to stop their proliferation.Download App Note >
A Global Threat
Add to that continued antibiotic overuse in both humans and animals and it’s no wonder the World Health Organization (WHO) declared antibiotic resistance one of the biggest global health threats. Accordingly, “In the European Union alone drug-resistant bacteria are estimated to cause 25,000 deaths and cost more than US$1.5 billion every year in healthcare expenses and productivity losses1. Last month the President of the UN General Assembly even met with its contingents to discuss its, “Global Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance,” and speaker Kate Stone, Journalist, and Writer reported that if we don’t act, now there will be more deaths from resistant bacteria in 2050 than even cancer2.
Research and Development
As these agencies push for action, the downside to antibiotic resistance is fewer pharmaceutical companies are willing to invest in replacement antibiotics because the profit potential is low, resulting in even less new medications coming to market. On the other hand, government agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority have received funding for research and development3 and are putting these funds to work to combat antibiotic resistant bacteria. Some of this work is focused on the study of Beta-lactamases, a family of enzymes involved in bacterial resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics. Beta-lactamase enzymes act by breaking the beta-lactam ring, which allows penicillin-like antibiotics to work. Therefore, one approach to combating antibiotic-resistant infections is using combination therapy where an antibiotic is administered along with a compound that targets and inhibits a known resistance mechanism, such as the beta-lactamase enzymes.
Antibiotic Resistance and the QTRAP 6500+ System
Recently SCIEX published an application note looking at the detection and quantitation of beta-lactamase inhibitors in plasma samples, “Bioanalysis of β-Lactamase Inhibitors on the SCIEX QTRAP® 6500+ System.”Here, researchers developed bioanalytical methods for early generation β-lactamase inhibitors sulbactam, tazobactam, and brobactam and monitored their levels in rat plasma samples. Using the QTRAP® 6500+ which includes the IonDrive™ Turbo V Ion source, QJet® ion guide and new HED+ detector, researchers can take advantage of the enhanced performance in negative ion mode, resulting in the high sensitivity quantitation of these beta-lactamase inhibitors and related compounds that comprise new antibiotic combination therapies such as Avycaz4 within complex plasma matrix.
Read more about antibiotic resistance in the previous post, ‘Rise of the Superbugs’.