New antibiotics are generally used sparingly–leaving companies with little chance of selling enough doses to recoup their investment in research.

Imagine a child scrapes his knee on the playground. The wound gets infected. At the ER, the doctor assures the family an antibiotic will make things fine.

But it doesn’t–and nothing else seems to work. Soon, the infection grows worse, and the only way to save the child’s life is to amputate.

This nightmarish scenario could become common in the coming years. Today, “superbugs”–bacteria and fungi resistant to virtually all antimicrobials–are increasingly prevalent. For example, Candida Auris, an emerging fungus that is proving to be resistant to all available treatments.

Without new, more powerful antimicrobials, a simple visit to a playground could end in unspeakable tragedy.

It’s in the nature of bacteria and fungi to develop antimicrobial resistance (AMR). If someone has pneumonia and is prescribed antibiotics, most of the pneumonia-causing bacteria will die. But some survive due to genetic luck. These survivors then reproduce. Unchecked, this strain of bacteria could cause incurable pneumonia, unless we have an antibiotic that these resistant bacteria have never met.

For this reason, we’ll always need new antibiotics. If scientists don’t discover new antibiotics soon, the world will eventually return to the pre-antibiotic era when simple cuts could kill.

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