September 4, 2014 (Investorideas.com Newswire) Fear has proven itself a significant driver of misplaced priorities in United States’ society. The recent, tragic and brutal deaths of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff at the hands of the religious fascist movement ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, and the subsequent emotional impact of these events has driven up fear of terrorism not felt since the 2,996 deaths of Americans resulting from the Al Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11. As significant as these current events are, people still tend to lose perspective.
Reports from the National Counter Terrorism Center have indicated, based on data from the Worldwide Tracking Incidents System, that about 17 Americans are killed each year in a terrorist attack. Yet, fear of terrorism has led to an American policy of a never-ending War on Global Terror and over the past decade the military budget of the United States literally more than doubled from about $350 million to over $700 million, and that's only the discretionary budget.
If more than 1,900 Americans died each week from acts of terrorism, the political results and the response of the American public would be quite predictable. However, a comparable number of American men, women and children die every single week from mostly preventable hospital-borne infections in the United States, according to figures from the Center for Disease Control. These hospital-borne infections are commonly referred to as healthcare-associated infections, or HAIs. To place HAIs into perspective, they kill more Americans than motor vehicle fatalities, AIDs, fires and homicides combined. Innocent, trusting people taken to hospitals for care and treatment may face death by an infection completely unrelated to their health problem. Of course, millions of Americans do survive and recover from HAIs, but at an additional cost and pain.
So, where is the War on Lethal Infections?
Most HAIs are due to pathogens that have become resistant to antibiotics. Although many blame liberal usage of antibiotics by doctors as the cause, a substantial cause is due to the high usage of antibiotics fed into livestock in factory farm settings, which in turn results in meat that becomes ingested by the population. Roughly 40% of all HAIs are the result of a class of antibiotic resistant staph infection referred to as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection. The bug is resistant to most antibiotics and while it can be carried harmlessly on the skin, it has the potential to lead to serious wound infections – particularly in people who are already unwell.
Obviously, typical good hand hygiene and bathing with antibacterial solution are keys to reducing infections. Hospitals have tried isolated infected patients, but data suggest this does little good outside of inducing anxiety and depression in the patient. Another part of the problem is that drug companies balk at spending funds researching and developing new antibiotics as their profit margins are considered to low. Only vaccines are considered less profitable than new antibiotics.
Most of the antibiotic development has been done in the past, and drug companies have little incentive to develop new ones because they don't see the profit potential; hence 13 new categories of antibiotics were discovered between 1945 and 1968 and just two new ones since then. Only four of the 12 largest global drug companies are researching new antibiotics. The last company to drop out was Pfizer, closing its Connecticut antibiotics research center, laying off 1,200 employees, and moving operations to China. To encourage new antibiotic development, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has developed a new designation, Qualified Infectious Disease Product, or QIDP, to encourage the development of new drugs to fight the epidemic of antibiotic resistant infections. Although large pharmaceutical companies have completely dropped the ball, small companies are stepping up to the challenge.
The first and only drug to achieve the QIDP label is the drug Dalvance, approved in June of 2014. Dalvance is taken intravenously and developed by the small-cap pharmaceutical Durata Therapeutics. However, there is a long battle ahead to fight off this serious killer that is dwelling in our hospitals.
If one was to describe other major players in a 'War against Lethal Infections,' Zenosense, Inc. would be among the leaders. Zenosense and Spain-based Sgenia Group have partnered to develop an early-stage MRSA infection detection system. Essentially, the system uses sensors that detect volatile organic compounds (VOC) that are emitted at the onset of infection, but before the patient develop symptoms. Preventing the onset of an MSRA infection in the first place would be far more preferable than the additional costs of treating a patient who may be so badly infected, that treatment may not even work.
Show congress terrorists in the Middle East and it will open its checkbook to the Pentagon and the CIA; but the loss of nearly 2,000 people a year to HAIs draws little-to-no attention. Deaths due to HAIs are one of the major crises we have to contend with in this day and age, and Zenosense is poised to fight this epic battle for our health and safety.
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