Washington University and the University of Michigan are just two of the schools that will be working in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to tackle the problem of widespread antibiotic resistance and the rise in dangerous superbugs.
Earlier this month the CDC announced it will award $14 million in funding to universities and other organizations in an effort to closely examine the human microbiome—the more than 100 trillion bacterial cells living in and around our bodies. Among other objectives, CDC experts hope to gain a better understanding of how antibiotics impact our friendly bacteria.
According to CDC Director Tom Frieden in a recent news release, “Understanding the role the microbiome plays in antibiotic-resistant infections is necessary to protect the public’s health. We think it is key to innovative approaches to combat antibiotic resistance, protect patients, and improve antibiotic use.”
In the last half century or so, the overuse and misuse of antibiotic medications has resulted in the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and clostridium difficile (C. diff.). Exploring ways to protect our good bacteria and help them flourish is the first step toward ensuring a balanced microbial environment and safeguarding human health.
The new initiative will cover a broad scope, from how the microbiome develops and its role in overall health to ways in which we can improve patient care in the future.