Identified Gene May Bring on New Superbug

"Make sure every use of antibiotic is necessary and discontinue when no longer needed," he said.

Baddour said that over 70 years of exposure to some of the same types of antibiotics has given bacteria the time to develop resistant genes.

"The bacteria are getting smarter and smarter and they're gaining mechanisms to get around the antibiotics," said Baddour. "We need newer agents."

Research is slim on developing stronger forms of antibiotics. In fact, according to Schaffner, many pharmaceutical manufacturers have stopped research on antibiotics mainly because of the economics.

"Antibiotics are given to a small group of people for a short amount of time," said Schaffner. "And, I don't know of any other product that when it comes out on the market, experts will say 'don't use it' unless you need it, of course."

Still, while government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention work to promote campaigns for antibiotic stewardship, it may be another decade before researchers develop usable drugs, he said.

"The problem is that the microbes are acquiring resistance faster than we're developing new drugs to combat the microbes," said Blaser. "So we are in a race, and we are losing ground."

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