A weekly roundup of news on drug resistance and other topics in global health.

Malaria superbug in Western Cambodia. A highly drug-resistant malaria ‘superbug’ from Western Cambodia is reportedly doing rounds in southern Vietnam, causing the first-line malaria treatment to fail. Experts warn that the superbug is a serious threat and could make malaria untreatable in a letter to The Lancet Infectious Diseases. The strain has also spread in northeastern Thailand and southern Laos. The spread of artemisinin-resistant malaria may set back disease control efforts. [BBC News]

Incentivizing new drug development to combat AMR. The US Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (PACCARB) has recommended incentives for boosting the development of new antimicrobials, vaccines and diagnostics. In its draft report, which was released last week, the expert advisory group also stressed the need for incentives to encourage greater conservation of antimicrobial effectiveness. [PACCARB draft report]

Not enough antibiotics in the pipeline: new warning by WHO. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of a serious lack of new antibiotics to combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance in a new report. There are very few potential treatment options for global health threats such as multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Fifty one new antibiotics are under development globally, however, only eight are entirely new treatments. [WHO press release]

New rapid test for MDR-TB. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine reports a new rapid molecular test that can accurately detect multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) cases. Compared to the standard TB tests that take weeks t0 ascertain resistance, the new test takes a little over two hours and can also test for resistance to second-line TB drugs, unlike other rapid tests. [The New England Journal of Medicine]

Pneumococcal vaccine use reverses antibiotic use trend in children in Denmark. A study in Vaccine reports that the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs) in the national immunization program in Denmark helped reduce the number of invasive and lower respiratory pneumococcal infections in children under 15 years of age. Antibiotic use, which had been increasing since 2000 declined after PCV introduction. However, PCV had little effect on upper respiratory infections caused by pneumococci. [Vaccine]

Tetracyclines may carry a lower risk of CDIs. Broad spectrum tetracyclines may carry a lower risk of Clostridium difficile infections (CDI) as compared to other antibiotics, finds a study in Clinical Infectious Diseases. Researchers analyzed six hospital-based studies between 1993 and 2012 and found that use of tetracyclines was associated with a lower rate of CDI which could possibly make it a drug of choice for first-line treatment. [Clinical Infectious Diseases]

Vaccine against MERS clears Phase 1. A vaccine being developed against the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), GLS-5300, has successfully passed phase 1 trials and has received a nod for the second set of trials by the South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (KMFDS). [GeneOne press release]

Nigeria receives cholera vaccine to combat outbreak. More than nine hundred thousand doses of cholera vaccine have been delivered to Nigeria to battle a cholera outbreak, which has affected more than 2600 people so far. Over the next few days, the vaccination campaign in the Nigerian state of Borno will target all adults and children above the age of one year. The vaccines have been provided with the support of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and the World Health Organization (WHO). [WHO announcement]

Study shows sustained impact of Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria  (AMFm). A study in Ghana on the impact of the Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria (AMFm) program for subsidized malaria drugs, shows impact even two years after the program had ended. In 2010, Ghana started receiving subsidized, quality-assured artemisinin-based combination therapies (QAACTs) printed with a Green Leaf Logo on their packaging. The researchers found that these medicines were still widely available, in nearly 90 percent of locations in urban and rural areas, and more cheaply, compared to their regular, non-subsidized and non-quality-assured counterparts. The authors concluded that the AMFm program increased the availability and affordability of anti-malarial drugs and has a sustained effect in endemic regions. The findings were reported in Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice. [Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice]

How antibiotics changed modern agriculture. A new book by author and award-winning journalist Maryn McKenna traces the increasing use of antibiotics in the poultry industry leading up to the modern crisis of antibiotic resistance. Use of antibiotics as growth promoters is a major impediment in efforts trying to slow down the epidemic of drug resistance. The book compares the issue of antibiotic use in food animals to the global threat of climate change and is being released next week. [PRI]