If you’ve ever had an infection like bronchitis, you probably know about those little antibiotic pills: Keep taking them even after you get better, you’re told, because they need to keep working for a while longer.
But typically, you don’t take the drugs forever. And there lies the rub: Antibiotics aren’t a huge source of profit like, say, the cholesterol drugs that people take every day for years. So pharmaceutical companies aren’t as eager to spend big bucks to develop them.
The problem: Ultra-powerful germs have learned how to evade existing antibiotics. Enter the San Diego biotechs that are trying to develop drugs that will both make a decent profit and kill superbugs dead.
We check on how the companies are doing and explore why superbugs are so darned nasty.
In other news:
- The number of local borrowers who are behind on their mortgages jumped sharply in September compared to last year. Another local biotech is trying to turn love handles into lucre: Amylin Pharmaceuticals has struck a deal with a Japanese company to make and sell experimental obesity drugs. Two San Diego teachers are among the five California Teachers of the Year. And we tie up some loose ends regarding the Chargers, their search for a new stadium and one snappy-looking fedora.
- In commentary, a Lakeside teacher describes the sorry conditions in her classroom, including hairballs and caked dirt, the byproduct of education budget cuts. And our cartoonist takes a wry look at what San Diego will be known for circa 2015.
- The L.A. Times profiles Alan Bersin, former San Diego U.S. attorney and schools chief, who’s now a big shot — and potentially even a bigger one — in the Border Patrol/customs world.
- “The city of San Diego and U.S. Small Business Administration have signed a first-of-its-kind agreement to help small contractors bid on city projects,” reports the U-T.
- Reuters journalists have begun a cross-country trip exploring how the economy is affecting people. They’re visiting Imperial County, just east of San Diego County, where they find the nation’s highest unemployment rate (although there’s some dispute about whether the numbers are accurate), rising domestic-violence cases, and big green-energy dreams.
- A brawl in downtown San Diego on Halloween night was caught on video and became an Internet hit, but cops aren’t pursuing anyone because nobody made a complaint, CityBeat reports.
- Set your phasers on “mourn”: More obituaries are remembering Shel Dorf, founder of San Diego’s Comic-Con, who died earlier this week at the age of 76.
- Finally, a newspaper in Washington state takes a look at major free-speech fight that forced San Diego into the national spotlight in 1911 and 1912. The battle royale began, the story says, when the city banned speech-making on the street, including on “Soapbox Row” — E Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues. It didn’t take long for violence to break out as newspapers chose sides between union types, including those known as Wobblies, and vigilantes.
Soapbox Row, by the way, is now smack in the middle of the Gaslamp Quarter, where plenty of talking (among other things) still goes on.