Cookie use on MRCVSonline
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies.
If you would like to forward this story on to a friend, simply fill in the form below and click send.

Your friend's email:
Your email:
Your name:
Send Cancel

‘Priority pathogens’ list underscores urgent need for new antibiotics
The list is split into three categories according to the urgency of the need for new antibiotics
WHO list designed to guide and promote research

A list of 12 bacteria families that pose the greatest threat to human health has been published by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Designed to guide and promote research of new antibiotics, the “priority pathogens” list forms part of WHO’s effort to address the global spread of antimcrobial resistance.

In particular, the list highlights the threat of gram-negative bacteria that are resistant to many antibiotics. These bacteria have the ability to find new ways to resist treatment and can transfer genetic material to other bacteria, allowing them to also become drug-resistant.

"This list is a new tool to ensure R&D responds to urgent public health needs," says Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO's assistant director-general for health systems and innovation. "Antibiotic resistance is growing, and we are fast running out of treatment options. If we leave it to market forces alone, the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time.”

The list is split into three categories according to the urgency of the need for new antibiotics: critical, high and medium priority.

The critical group contains multi-drug resistant bacteria that constitute a particular threat in nursing homes and hospitals. These include Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas and various Enterobacteriaceae.

The high and medium-priority lists contain drug-resistant bacteria that cause more common diseases, such as Salmonella and gonorrhoea. Tuberculosis – whose resistance has been growing in recent years – was not included because other programmes are already targeting this.  

WHO hopes that the list will spur governments to introduce policies that encourage basic science and advanced R&D. They also hope the list will inform not-for-profit projects such as the WHO/Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), which is participating in development of new antibiotics.

"New antibiotics targeting this priority list of pathogens will help to reduce deaths due to resistant infections around the world," says Prof Evelina Tacconelli, head of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Tübingen and a major contributor to the development of the list. "Waiting any longer will cause further public health problems and dramatically impact on patient care."

Become a member or log in to add this story to your CPD history

New DNA testing scheme for the Russian black terrier

News Story 1
 A new DNA testing scheme for juvenile laryngeal paralysis and polyneuropathy (JLPP) in the Russian black terrier has been approved by The Kennel Club.

JLPP is a genetic disease that affects the nerves. In affected dogs, it starts with the nerve that supplies the muscles of the larynx leading to muscle weakness and laryngeal paralysis.

To find out which laboratories the Kennel Club is able to record results from, and which labs will send results direct to the Kennel Club, visit


News Shorts
Feline art marks 90 years of Cats Protection

Sussex-based charity Cats Protection is hosting a prestigious art exhibition to mark its 90th anniversary.

More than 200 paintings provided by members of the Society of Feline Artists will go on show at the charity's National Cat Centre in Chelwood Gate (28 April - 7 May).

"Art enthusiasts, students and cat lovers alike will all enjoy the exhibition, and we hope it will also inspire some of our younger visitors to get sketching," said Cats Protection's director of fundraising, Lewis Coghlin.