Antibiotic resistance is predicted to come to a head in the next decade or two. That means that even the safest surgeries could become life threatening due to the risk of infection, that a sore throat or a scraped knee could be deadly.
Although the use of antibiotics in ranching is a big source of the problem (and contributes to the growth of superbugs like MRSA) the over-prescription of broad spectrum antibiotics have also played their share in the mess—you do not need antibiotics for the majority of sinus infections, for example, as they are mostly caused by viruses (then fungi, THEN bacteria!), and even a simple bladder infection has become a source antibiotic resistance.
Whether there is a breakthrough in the next few decades (Will one of the small companies develop something great? Will we start using Colloidal Silver again? Will a change in practices ease the pressure on bacteria to become antibiotic resistant?) will determine how bad the problem of antibiotic resistance is for the next generation.
One possible solution may be found in the near extinct Giant Panda: a peptide called cathelicidin-AM. Found in the blood, many animals have similar antibiotic peptides, the Giant Panda’s is just particularly good.
Generally, these antibiotic peptides don’t cause a lot of resistance in bacteria—and they also work as antifungal agents. That means that even if it doesn’t solve all of our problems with antibiotic resistance, it may yet be a great solution for people who suffer from severe antibiotic side-effects, like the growth of fungi in place of their friendly gut bacteria which also get killed off by antibiotics.
The Giant Panda’s peptide already works on some antibiotic resistant bacteria, and can be produced synthetically, so there’s little danger to the breeding-challenged creatures.
What do you see for the future of broad spectrum antibiotics?