As scientists explore how life in the abyss could generate new medicines, deep-sea mining is threatening to wipe it out
It has been 30 years since the last new class of antibiotic was introduced to the market. All the existing drugs are essentially variations on a theme: they kill bacteria, in similar ways. Some burst cells walls, others block DNA replication.
But the bacteria are swiftly evolving to survive those chemical attacks – and as they survive, they become virulent superbugs. Without new antibiotics, by 2050 the death toll from drug-resistant infections is projected to reach 10 million people a year, making the coronavirus pandemic seem almost quaint.