SuperBugs kill 23,000, sicken 2 million, and cost at least $1 billion in the US each year

The CDC has a new report on the impact of drug-resistant pathogens in the US (primarily antibiotic-resistant bacteria).   They find that at a minimum in 2012, drug-resistant germs caused 23,000 deaths, more than 2 million illnesses, and more than $1 billion in excess medical costs.

A few things I found interesting in the report.

1) The rate of antibiotic prescription per person varies widely by state, with states like Mississipi prescribing antibiotics at twice the rate per person as states like California.

2) The pipeline for new antibiotic drugs is looking very very dry.  The number of new antibiotics approved per 5-year period has been dropping over the long term. (The last data point is only a 3 year period, but even adjusting for that, it's a new low.)

3) The antibiotic resistant bacteria c. difficile alone accounts for 14,000 deaths, or more than half the total.  And deaths increased more than 400% between 2000 and 2007.

You can read the CDC's press release abou the report here or download the full report here.

Anti-Ghrelin Vaccine to Fight Obesity

Ghrelin is a hormone that helps regulate body weight and metabolism.  Higher ghrelin levels lead us to expend less energy and to eat more in an attempt to conserve resources.   Now a group in Portugal has shown that it’s possible to immunize mice against ghrelin, using their own immune system to suppress levels of the hormone.  This is another avenue to reprogramming our metabolisms to avoid one of the largest health perils of our age: obesity.  (Not to mention the obvious cosmetic appeal.)

Compared with unvaccinated controls, vaccinated mice—both normal-weight and obese mice—developed increasing amounts of specific anti-ghrelin antibodies, increased their energy expenditure and decreased their food intake, the authors reported. Within 24 hours after the first vaccination injection, obese mice ate 82 percent of the amount that control mice ate, and after the final vaccination shot they ate only 50 percent of what unvaccinated mice ate, Monteiro said.

via Anti-obesity vaccine reduces food consumption in animals | Science Blog.