Biology professor Margaret Riley, an expert in the evolution of microbial resistance, is one of five new members of the board of directors of the Boston-based Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA). The appointments were announced in June.
Stuart B. Levy, APUA’s CEO, said, “Our new board members occupy the highest levels of academic research, medicine, biopharmaceuticals and veterinary science. Their areas of expertise harmonize to address the complexity of antimicrobial resistance. We welcome them.”
Riley says, “I am honored to be invited to serve on the board of directors for APUA, which was one of the very first organizations devoted to informing the public of the dangers of antibiotic overuse and abuse and has been a key player in efforts to extend the lifespan of these life-saving drugs.”
APUA points out that antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s greatest health threats, noting that the Centers for Disease Control estimates that every year at least 2 million people are infected with drug resistant bacteria, and at least 23,000 of them die as a direct result.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when an antibiotic has lost its ability to control or kill bacterial growth. The bacteria thus become “resistant” and continue to multiply in the presence of therapeutic levels of the antibiotic.
According to APUA, “When antibiotics become ineffective, we disarm our capacity to fight infectious diseases.” That also means patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, dialysis for renal failure or surgery are rendered more vulnerable to secondary infections.
Further, when antibiotics do not work, infections often last longer, cause more severe illness, require more doctor visits or extended hospital stays, involve more expensive and toxic medications or cause death.
Antibiotics are some of the most commonly prescribed medicines in the world. Overuse and misuse are the most important factors leading to antibiotic resistance. Decreasing inappropriate antibiotic use is a key strategy to control resistance. APUA also calls for aggressive action to promote development of new antibiotics and rapid diagnostic tests for resistant bacteria.
A global non-governmental organization, APUA was founded in 1981 to preserve the power of existing antibiotics, to prevention and to increase access to new agents and rapid diagnostics. It is engaged in research, education and advocacy to improve public policy and responsible antibiotic treatment practices worldwide.