World Antimicrobial Awareness Week
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the top-10 global public health threats facing humanity and this is the theme of the
World Antimicrobial Awareness Week to take place during November 18 to 24.
Antibiotics act by interfering with some aspect of life processes unique to microorganisms.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when antibiotics lose their ability to kill or inhibit the microorganism (e.g., bacteria). Bacteria are naturally equipped with inherent, amazingly creative, mechanisms enabling them to resist naturally occurring and man-made antibiotics. Basically, these mechanisms involve the modification of the drug’s target site such that the drug loses its ability to harm the microorganism.
Therefore, the key to tackling drug resistant microorganisms, and particularly multi drug resistance (MDR) is the development of a pipeline of innovative drugs with new modes of action.
This requires the identification of novel microbial targets. These microbial targets are molecules (often proteins, such as enzymes or receptors) that could potentially be manipulated by a drug.
Developing an antimicrobial drug through extensive preclinical studies, safety studies in animals and humans, prolonged and massive clinical studies and then, after receipt of marketing approval, continued review of adverse events in use and very often Phase IV studies, is a hugely expensive undertaking. Without proper patent protection that provides a period of exclusivity, the developer will not be able to recoup its huge development expenses and enjoy the fruits of this undertaking. Thus, patents are vital tools for motivating enterprises to embark on such undertakings.
Often, the search for antimicrobial drugs results in the finding of new druggable targets. Patenting such targets (which are naturally occurring molecules or a portion thereof) is more challenging than patenting defined drugs. Often, these targets are published under an open access policy, and then patent protection is reserved for the innovative drugs directed to such targets.