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Deadly Superbugs Pose Greater Threat Than Previously Estimated

Drug-resistant germs sicken about 3 million people every year in the United States and kill about 35,000, representing a much larger public health threat than previously understood, according to a long-awaited report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new estimates show that, on average, someone in the United States gets an antibiotic-resistant infection every 11 seconds, and every 15 minutes, someone dies.

‘Superbug’ Infections are on the Rise, a New CDC Report Says

“We see people from everyday life, who are young and otherwise healthy, who get a MRSA [methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus] infection on their skin,” says CIMAR Director Dr. Helen Boucher. “We want to have diagnostic tools and medical treatments for problems we know we’re going to have,” she said. “But we also need to prepare for the kind of resistance that we could never predict. We know from history that bacteria and mother nature are smarter than we are.”

New Antibiotics Needed "Yesterday" to Tackle Drug-Resistant Infections, Says CIMAR Director

When Roxana Sudderth’s son, Trey, a healthy high school freshman, developed a sore on his foot after playing basketball, “it just looked like a small blister.” Doctors gave him antibiotics, but the pain persisted. Sudderth took him to the hospital where they told her he had a life-threatening infection, MRSA, a bacterium resistant to antibiotics. Over 19 days, his condition deteriorated until finally doctors told Sudderth it was time to take Trey off life support.

Unlocking Biological Materials for Better Therapies

Researchers at Tufts’ Laboratory for Living Devices (L2D) link materials like silk and paper with technology, medicine, and diagnostics. CIMAR and L2D faculty member, Dr. Bree Aldridge, and her team are using biomaterials made of silk to engineer programmable diagnostic platforms—or  “petri dishes of the future”—to fight antimicrobial resistance by gathering more detailed information about susceptibility to multiple drugs.

Wellcome Trust Report Urges Better Antimicrobial Resistance Messaging

A new report suggests clinicians, public health professionals, and journalists need to rethink the way they talk about antimicrobial resistance to increase public understanding and promote action by policy makers. In this article, CIMAR Director Dr. Helen Boucher acknowledges that while it is challenging issue to explain to the public, stakeholders haven’t done a great job of communicating the immediacy and severity of antimicrobial resistance.

Is the Gene-Editing Tool, Crispr, the Next Antibiotic?

Desperate to find new medicines against pathogenic microorganisms, scientists are turning to Crispr, which has typically been considered for macroscopic tasks: altering mosquitoes so they can’t spread malaria, editing tomatoes so they are more flavorful and curing certain genetic diseases in humans. Now researchers are harnessing Crispr to turn a bacterium’s machinery against itself, or against viruses that infect human cells.

CIMAR LEAP Fellow Presents Groundbreaking Antimicrobial Stewardship Findings at IDWeek

Dr. Gabriela Andujar Vazquez presented groundbreaking findings from her antimicrobial stewardship pilot study at IDWeek in Washington, D.C. earlier this month. The study showed a 20% decrease in antibiotic start rate in patients, potentially demonstrating the benefit of enhanced stewardship support by an expert on antibiotic use in long term care.

Antibiotics Are Losing Their Power Against Deadly Infections. Can We Fix the Problem?

Experts say the problem of AMR is compounded by improper use of antibiotics by doctors, hospitals and patients, as well as by farmers and others in the agricultural sector (the drugs are commonly administered to livestock, as well as to humans). Check out this eye-opening panel discussion from CIMAR’s Dr. Helen Boucher and others.

ASM Podcast Honors the Life and Legacy of Dr. Stuart Levy

The TWiM holobionts pay tribute to Stuart Levy, and reveal the remarkably diverse array of cyclic nucleotides synthesized by bacteria that likely mediate interactions with animal and plant hosts. Dr. Levy’s friends and colleagues, Drs. Elio Schaechter and Michele Swanson, join the discussion.

Remembering Stuart Levy, a Pioneer Who Sounded the Alarm on the Threat of Antimicrobial Resistance

Stuart B. Levy, a key inspiration for CIMAR and an Emeritus Professor of Molecular Biology and Microbiology at the Tufts University School of Medicine,  died following an extended illness on September 4th. Dr. Levy’s pioneering research and impassioned advocacy raised awareness of the danger of antibiotic resistance, He was 80. Colleagues, friends and family remember Dr. Levy in this piece from TuftsNow.

Why is there an EEE Vaccine for Horses but not for Humans?

Actually, there is a human vaccine for eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), but it has never been approved for public use. The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases—the military medical research institute at Fort Detrick in Maryland—developed a human EEE vaccine in the mid-1980s. Tufts Cummings School Professor Sam Telford, an expert on infections spread by mosquitoes and ticks, explains.

Tufts Cummings Vet School Hosts Symposium on "Engaging Veterinarians to Advance Human and Animal Health"

Nearly 600 veterinary students from the U.S., Canada, and beyond attended the 30th National Veterinary Scholars Symposium, hosted by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. The meeting featured topics on critical care, antimicrobial resistance, regenerative medicine, cancer biology, infectious diseases, and pathways to research career development.

New Antibiotic Approved for Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug for highly drug-resistant tuberculosis, the world’s leading infectious cause of death. The antibiotic, called pretomanid, was developed by a nonprofit group called TB Alliance at a time when few companies are investing in the expensive and unprofitable endeavor of creating next-generation antibiotics. CIMAR Director Dr. Helen Boucher shares her insights.

Tufts Researchers Focus on Mice as Potential Solution to Lyme Disease

New England has some of the highest rates of Lyme disease in the country. In 2017, there were more than 400 confirmed and probable cases in Massachusetts. In Maine, the number of confirmed and probable cases was more than 1,800. Now, a unique project aims to stop the disease in its tracks by going straight to the source.

Automatically Chlorinating Water Reduces Diarrheal Diseases in Children in Urban Bangladesh

“This novel, low-cost technology requires no behavior change or effort by users–safe water comes straight out of the tap,” says CIMAR’s Dr Amy Pickering, who led the research. “This point-of-collection approach to water treatment could be a transformative strategy for reducing gastrointestinal disease burden in low-income urban communities.”

Overdue Outbreak Detection System Leaves Patchwork Defense

According to CIMAR Director Dr. Helen Boucher and others, the U.S. should have had a nationwide network to monitor for the next viral outbreak or biological threat a decade ago. Instead, public health leaders make do with a patchwork system while waiting for the Department of Health and Human Services races to get its integrated network in service.

Call the Bee Vet: Bee Keepers Can No Longer Get Antibiotics Over the Counter

Shortly after the FDA directive mandating that any antibiotics for honeybees be prescribed by veterinarians, Tufts Cummings School offered a sold-out continuing-education bee medicine workshop for practicing veterinarians. Tufts hopes to offer more training for veterinarians in the near future.

Antibiotics Developers Seek a Cure for Industry Ills

Not long ago, Achaogen Inc. was flying high. In early 2017, the drugmaker’s market capitalization soared above $1 billion on high hopes for its new medicine, an antibiotic targeting complicated urinary-tract infections. But in April—less than a year after the drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration—Achaogen filed for bankruptcy.

IDSA Describes AMR Challenges, Answers in Congressional Testimony

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) treasurer Dr. Helen Boucher, FIDSA, has urged lawmakers to support and expand federal efforts to stabilize the antibiotic market, spur the development of new infection-fighting drugs and protect existing ones in testimony before House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security.

Antibiotic Resistance Plays a Role in Biodefense

The House Oversight subcommittee on national security convened experts last week to discuss biodefense — and the focus was on the threat of antimicrobial resistance. A bug doesn’t have to be a weapon to be deadly. “We have the sad duty of sending people to hospice because we don’t know how to treat their infections,” CIMAR’s Dr. Helen Boucher told the panel.

Experts Warn of Antimicrobial Resistance, Additional Threats to National Biosecurity

“Antibiotic infections pose serious threats to our national security,” said Dr. Helen Boucher, director of the Tufts Center for Integrated Management of Antimicrobial Resistance at Tufts University. “Resistant pathogens complicate our soldiers’ combat wounds, increasing risk of limb loss and death, and compromise our military combat readiness and effectiveness.”

CIMAR Epidemiologist Maya Nadimpalli, PhD, Describes Efforts to Document Antibiotic Resistance in Developing Countries

As an epidemiology postdoc at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, Maya Nadimpalli became interested in antibiotic resistance among young children in low-income countries. Now at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, Nadimpalli shares the opportunities and challenges of studying public health in developing nations in this Nature Careers Q&A.

CIMAR's Yoav Golan, MD, on the Recent Approval of Ceftolozane/Tazobactam for HABP/VABP

The FDA has approved a new indication for Merck’s ceftolozane/tazobactam (Zerbaxa), allowing for the drug to be used to treat hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia and ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia. Contagion® spoke with CIMAR’s Yoav Golan, MD, attending physician and associate professor of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, about what this could mean for patients.

Phage Therapy to Prevent Cholera Infections--and Possibly Those Caused by Other Deadly Bacteria

In the latest of a string of high-profile cases in the U.S., a cocktail of bacteria-killing viruses successfully treated a cystic fibrosis patient suffering from a deadly infection caused by a pathogen that was resistant to multiple forms of antibiotics. Curing infections is great, of course. But what about using these bacteria-killing viruses  to prevent infections in the first place?

Joining Forces for Good: Tufts CIMAR and the Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute Encourage Multidisciplinary Collaboration.

CIMAR and CTSI are just two of the exciting initiatives that embody Tufts’ commitment to enhancing multi-disciplinary collaboration. Each brings together investigators and clinicians from across the medical school, the university, and Tufts Medical Center to solve pressing real-world problems with a One Health approach.

The Death of Antibiotics: We’re Running Out of Effective Drugs to Fight Off an Army of Superbugs

“We’re seeing healthy young people with urinary tract and skin infections that we don’t have a pill for,” says Helen Boucher, an infectious disease specialist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. “And we may not be able to perform organ transplants, and even routine surgeries like joint replacements. We should all be scared.”

Predicting TB's Course: CIMAR's Gillian Beamer Hopes to Unlock Why the Bacterium Affects Individuals Differently

Beamer plans to identify and test both proteins in blood and lung tissue that accurately determine disease categories and DNA sequences on chromosomes that accurately correlate with these disease outcomes. “Our goal is to generate testable models that can predict the outcome of infection before disease occurs,” Beamer said.

Doctors Are Running Out of Effective Drugs Because of Poor Financial Incentives to Develop Them

Medical researchers have known for decades that the pipeline for new drugs to stave off bacterial infections would one day run dry. That day is now at hand. “The crisis has already arrived. We are in an era now when doctors like me have no effective antibiotics for some of their patients,” says CIMAR Director Dr. Helen Boucher.

Antibiotics Aren’t Profitable Enough for Big Pharma to Make More

Public health experts are calling for new incentives to reward companies for bringing drugs that are effective against resistant strains to market. Achaogen Inc. spent 15 years racing to develop antibiotics against resistant superbugs such as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, a strain that can kill up to half the people it attacks. But as a business, it’s a failure. The drug,  Zemdri, lacked sales in its first six months on the market == less than $1 million. Achaogen filed for bankruptcy in April.

Medicare Payment Rules Hinder the Fight Against Superbugs

Late last year, a retirement community in Vermont was quarantined after an outbreak of antibiotic-resistant bacteria swept through the facility, sickening 70 seniors. In pediatric oncology wards, children beating cancer are increasingly felled by drug-resistant bacteria and fungal infections. Every week, we hear more stories of infections that have become untreatable due to resistance. Such alarms, once rare, are becoming more commonplace. The time to fix the problem is now, before it’s too late.

Video: CIMAR Professors and Doctors Join Forces to Fight Superbugs

Drug-resistant diseases are hospitalizing and killing people across the world. To fight this crisis, researchers and physicians from Tufts University and Tufts Medical Center are bringing together their unique skillsets under one umbrella: The Tufts Center for Integrated Management of Antimicrobial Resistance.

Archaogen Bankruptcy Raises Worry Over Antibiotic Pipeline

“We’re worried that Achaogen is not alone, and that we will see the fall of other small antibiotic manufacturers,” said Helen Boucher, MD, director of the Tufts Center for Integrated Management of Antimicrobial Resistance and treasurer of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). “And we’re worried about the danger this could present for our patients.”


Op-Ed: The Antibiotic Market is Broken and Won't Fix Itself

Over the past year we’ve watched two troubling trends escalate. First, patients increasingly face — and their doctors struggle to treat — infections that do not respond to existing antibiotics. Second, major pharmaceutical companies are backing away from developing new antibiotics.


Stopping Cholera in Its Tracks: Testing Bacteriophages as a Way to Halt the Spread of the Deadly Disease

Cholera strikes almost 3 million people each year worldwide. Tufts/CIMAR researchers are developing a treatment to prevent its spread, using viruses to attack the bacterium that causes the disease.


Antimicrobial Resistance Fighters: CIMAR is cracking down on one of the biggest global health concerns

Antimicrobial resistance is a global catastrophe, leading to 700,000 deaths annually around the world. Tufts University and Tufts Medical Center are heeding the call with the new Tufts Center for Integrated Management of Antimicrobial Resistance (CIMAR)…


Tufts-Led Study Compares Gender-Specific Expression of Antibiotic Resistance Genes During Active Gonorrhea Infection

The World Health Organization estimates that 78 million people worldwide are infected with gonorrhea each year


CIMAR Featured in Spotlight on Research and Collaboration

Given an increasingly difficult funding climate, finding the research strengths of the university and focusing resources on those areas is a priority for Tufts. After a year-and-a-half consultative process involving researchers from across the university, five thematic priority areas emerged.


Tufts Summer Programs Provide Research Opportunities for Undergraduates

Tufts prides itself on being a distinguished research university, providing students with opportunities to apply what they have learned in the classroom to the real world. …


Tufts Researchers Find Link Between Dog-Human Antibiotic Resistance

For many people, pets are family; just as close to them as the humans in their life. However, a new study suggests that closeness can create a concerning health issue making prescribed medicines less effective. …




IDSA announces Tufts Medical Center Among Recipients of Antimicrobial Stewardship Centers of Excellence Designation

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) announced today the recipients of its Antimicrobial Stewardship Centers of Excellence (CoE) designation.