Antimicrobial resistance in the next 30 years, humankind, bugs and drugs: a visionary approach

Intensive Care Med. 2017 Oct;43(10):1464-1475. doi: 10.1007/s00134-017-4878-x. Epub 2017 Jul 21.


Purpose: To describe the current standards of care and major recent advances with regard to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and to give a prospective overview for the next 30 years in this field.

Methods: Review of medical literature and expert opinion were used in the development of this review.

Results: There is undoubtedly a large clinical and public health burden associated with AMR in ICU, but it is challenging to quantify the associated excess morbidity and mortality. In the last decade, antibiotic stewardship and infection prevention and control have been unable to prevent the rapid spread of resistant Gram-negative bacteria (GNB), in particular carbapenem-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa (and other non-fermenting GNB), extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)-producing and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE). The situation appears more optimistic currently for Gram-positive, where Staphylococcus aureus, and particularly methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), remains a cardinal cause of healthcare-associated infections worldwide. Recent advancements in laboratory techniques allow for a rapid identification of the infecting pathogen and antibiotic susceptibility testing. Their impact can be particularly relevant in settings with prevalence of MDR, since they may guide fine-tuning of empirically selected regimen, facilitate de-escalation of unnecessary antimicrobials, and support infection control decisions. Currently, antibiotics are the primary anti-infective solution for patients with known or suspected MDR bacteria in intensive care. Numerous incentives have been provided to encourage researchers to work on alternative strategies to reverse this trend and to provide a means to treat these pathogens. Although some promising antibiotics currently in phase 2 and 3 of development will soon be licensed and utilized in ICU, the continuous development of an alternative generation of compounds is extremely important. There are currently several promising avenues available to fight antibiotic resistance, such as faecal microbiota, and phage therapy.

Keywords: Antibiotics; Antimicrobial resistance; Diagnostic test; Microbiota; Phage therapy; Vaccine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Antimicrobial Stewardship / trends*
  • Cross Infection / mortality*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial / drug effects*
  • Forecasting*
  • Global Health / trends
  • Health Policy / trends
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / trends*
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Microbiota
  • Phage Therapy
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents