Alternative therapeutics for self-limiting infections—An indirect approach to the antibiotic resistance challenge

Alternative therapeutics for infectious diseases is a top priority, but what infections should be the primary targets? At present there is a focus on therapies for severe infections, for which effective treatment is most needed, but these infections are hard to manage, and progress has been limited. Here, we explore a different approach. Applying an evolutionary perspective to a review of antibiotic prescription studies, we identify infections that likely make a large contribution to resistance evolution across multiple taxa but are clinically mild and thus present easier targets for therapeutics development. Alternative therapeutics for these infections, we argue, would save lives indirectly by preserving the high efficacy of existing antibiotics for the patients who need them the most.

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