Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Antibiotic resistance: An infectious arms race

Winning the fight against infectious bacteria requires staying ahead of the organisms' uncanny ability to flank our frontal assaults. By Karyn Hede.

Regulatory approvals of new classes of antibiotics bring novel mechanisms of attack

Antibiotic ups and downs

As new antibiotics come on the market (upward arrows), resistance develops (downward arrows), but the drugs continue to be used. The growing collection of antibiotics over time is offset by the increasing resistance.

Ups and downs in MRSA resistance

Over the past decade, many European countries have gained ground on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), but this deadly infection keeps spreading in others.

Credit: SOURCE: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

A shrinking arsenal

Since the early 1980s, the US Food and Drug Administration has approved fewer new antibiotics.

Credit: Source: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Use of antibiotics varies dramatically

Antibiotic prescribing practices in the European Union and European Economic Area vary widely, highlighting the need for standardized prescribing practices to reduce the spread of resistant bacteria.

Credit: SOURCE: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Hede, K. Antibiotic resistance: An infectious arms race. Nature 509, S2–S3 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/509S2a

Download citation

Further reading

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing