Scientists predict there would be as many as 400,000 unnecessary deaths a year across world because of a new antibiotic “discovery void”.
Blood poisoning from sepsis is already rising in the US because of the “creeping catastrophe,” they said.
Bacteria are becoming resistant to our current antibiotics, which were discovered between 1910 and 1990.
But no new ones have been developed to counter this for the past 25 years.
Epedemics of illnesses, such as tuberculosis, Ecoli, gonorrhea, syphilis and pneumonia, which currently treated by antibiotics could lead to multiple deaths.
And despite efforts to limit the use of antibiotics unless absolutely necessary, their use continues to rise, claim a campaigning group of experts.
Dr Adam Roberts, of University College London, who is trying to find new forms of antibiotics, described growing resistance levels and the current lack of new alternative drugs as “one of the greatest current threats to mankind” alongside economic instability and war.
He fears we are already “on the verge” of having no useful antibiotics left for some common infections.
He said: “There will be more death – a lot more death. By the year 2050 there could be an extra 10 million deaths a year due to the problem, and nearly 400,000 in Europe.
“This is a slow onset cataclysmic event with the possibility of it happening in our time.
“Antibiotics are no longer being discovered. The bacterias are repeatedly exposed to the same agents and are able to evolve.
“Despite assurances across the world they would try to cut usage, the use of antibiotics globally has continued to rise”
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The increased usage couple with the discovery void has created a perfect storm scenario.
“Some bacteria are multiplying once every 20 minutes. We could very quickly get a nightmare scenario of multiple resistant bacteria, and what would happen to the Earth if we don’t meet the challenge – modern healthcare would cease to exist.”
It would place a greater burden on the NHS and other health care systems worldwide.
Illnesses like TB which are treated by antibiotics could have epidemics
Sepsis was the “unknown killer” of Britons, with about 40,000 people dying from it every year in UK. But with no new drugs cases with skyrocket, Dr Adams said.
Victoria Wells, of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (BSAC) said doctors were prone to guessing based on symptoms and prescribing general antibiotics, which was making the problem worse.
She said: “GPs are under pressure to give patients something to help and take a leap of faith and prescribe an antibiotic based on that symptom when they do not know the cause of the infection and if it is a bacteria or a virus (which can’t be killed by antibiotics).
“If the bacteria is not known, they give a broad spectrum antibiotic, which wipes out a lot of them, but this only increases future resistance.”
There will be more death – a lot more death. By the year 2050 there could be an extra 10 million deaths a year due to the problem, and nearly 400,000 in Europe.Dr Adam Roberts, of University College London
Researchers are now being asked to bid for funding to develop a diagnostic tool to sped up the process so GPs know exactly which drug to give.
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She said patients needed to play their part to by improving hygiene, so less bacteria is spread, and being more confident to fight of infections without antibiotics.
Dr Lloyd Czaplewski, is part of Antibiotic Action, a campaign lobby group set up by the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (BSAC). which has called on more action from the Government.
On a mission: Clockwise from left Victoria Wells, Dr Adam Roberts and Dr Lloyd Czaplewski This table shows how antibiotic use has continued to rise despite warnings
He said billions had been ploughed into funding research for new antibiotics with talented pharmaceutical experts involved for many years, but with next to no success.But here’s the solution.
He said: “We need to look at anything that has been sidelined in the past to see if it can be picked up again and has research possibilities.
“There are lots of opportunities, but perhaps not enough activity.”
He estimated it would cost $1.6billion just to asses if changed compounds were going to be potentially useful in 20 to 30 years time, so the amount of money needed globally to solve the problem was immense – but it had to be done.
Mr Czaplewski is not entirely independent though as he has set up two companies, Abgentis and Chemical Biology Ventures Limited which are seeking to create new anti-bacterial strains.
Scientists are warning that a growing resistance to antibiotics poses a major global threat to public health.
In the first worldwide survey of the problem, the World Health Organisation found for example high rates of drug-resistant E-coli bacteria, which causes problems such as meningitis, and infections of the skin, blood and the kidneys.
WHO warns antibiotic resistance poses global threat
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