Riley is an expert in the evolution of microbial resistance and a member of the board of directors of Boston-based Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics, an organization that has called for aggressive action to promote development of new antibiotics and rapid diagnostic tests for resistant bacteria. Antibiotics are some of the most commonly prescribed medicines in the world, and overuse and misuse are the most important factors leading to antibiotic resistance, Riley points out.
As she explains, antibiotic resistance occurs when an antibiotic has lost its ability to control or kill bacterial growth. The bacteria become “resistant” and continue to multiply even during antibiotic treatment. Not only do physicians lose an important weapon in disease control, but patients are more vulnerable to secondary infections, infections often last longer, cause more severe illness, require more doctor visits or long hospital stays and can involve more expensive and toxic medications.
Antibiotics now in use generally take a “shotgun approach,” Riley adds, which targets healthy bacteria needed for good health, as well as harmful bacteria. This can do more harm than good, especially for children who may have long-term microbiome damage.
She and others have evidence that a more targeted and promising approach is possible because they have seen in experiments that bacteria have the ability to produce their own “chemical weapons” that attack enemy bacteria without hurting beneficial ones.
For its part, Boundless Impact Investing says its webinar will address a situation where 700,000 infectious disease-related deaths occur every year, a number that could soon reach 10 million. “Investing in innovative medicines and technologies can help facilitate action against antibiotic resistance. For example, more ‘resistible’ antibiotics can improve animal health and products that diversify infants' gut microbiota can provide protection for lifelong health.”
Further, the company points out that the World Bank has declared that investing in resources to contain antibiotic resistance as one of the highest-yielding investments one can make. “The need for impact investors to focus on antibiotic resistance goes beyond returns, as public health and the global economy are on the line,” it notes.
In addition to Riley the webinar will feature speakers Sam Kass of Acre Venture Partners, which is the venture arm of Campbell’s Soup, Tim Brown of Evolve BioSystems and Joe Crabb of ImmuCell.