Antibiotic resistance is a real problem that is not receiving the types of media coverage that it warrants. The basics of the story are that after many decades of overusing antibiotics, bacteria are now becoming immune to their effects. While the threat is still at a manageable level because most bacteria are still vulnerable to antibiotics, the number of bacteria that is resistance to them is growing every day.
This happens because bacteria reproduce very quickly, and many generations can come and go in a relatively short amount of time. Combine this with the high level of bacteria that seem to swap genes and you have a recipe for disaster. Currently about 700.000 people a year are dying due to infections caused by bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Predictions are that the number will reach 10 million a year by the year 2050. That's, of course, assuming that the level of resistance stays on the same curve and that there are not any unforeseen changes in bacteria behavior.
While these predictions look dire, there is new hope in the form of a new treatment for bacteria by using micro polymers called SNAPPs, which is an acronym for structurally nanoengineered antimicrobial peptide polymers. SNAPPs work by targeting the cellular walls of bacteria and damaging them, which ultimately kills the bacteria. SNAPPs are still in the early phases of testing and thus far have only been tested on lab mice. But despite their limited testing they have, a lot of scientists are very excited for two reasons. First, SNAPPs can be engineered to target a specific type of bacteria. Unlike antibiotics which can kill useful bacteria as well, SNAPPs can be used to target only the bacteria that are making a patient ill. The other reason scientists are so excited about is the SNAPPs are too large to be able to attack a human cell, which means that they would have no unforeseen side effects.
Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to public health that mankind has had to face in a very long time. The potential destruction that antibiotic resistant bacteria can cause is enormous, and that means that this is a problem that needs to be made a top priority. The biggest problem is that the current solution is to try to develop new antibiotics, which is time consuming, plus it's just a temporary measure that steadily makes bacteria more and more resistant. Instead of trying to solve the issue with more antibiotics, more funding needs to be given to other promising solutions like SNAPPs.