Meet the companies tackling nine of humanity's biggest problems -- and making millions saving us from ourselves.
Problem #8: Drug-Resistant Infections
Problem #8: Drug-Resistant Infections
The background: Bacterial infections once easily treated with antibiotics have gained frightening resistance during the past few decades. In 1974 just 2 percent of the most common form of staph infections found in hospitals were resistant to the common antibiotic methicillin; today more than 60 percent are impervious. This year nearly 2 million Americans will get bacterial infections while in a hospital; 90,000 of them will die.

The solution: New classes of antibiotics. Massachusetts-based biotech Cubist Pharmaceuticals released Cubicin in 2003 as a treatment for serious skin infections. In 2006 it was approved for bloodstream infections.

The payoff: Cubist, which went public in 1996, has brought in more than $320 million in Cubicin sales so far, making it the most successful new intravenous antibiotic ever. Third-quarter sales hit $50 million, a 65 percent jump from 2005, and annual revenue is expected to reach $200 million by 2008. Cubist has two new anti-infective drugs in the pipeline, awaiting FDA approval.

The opportunity: A handful of biotechs, including Basilea, Oscient, and Paratek, are already chasing new classes of antibiotics but have yet to get federal approval for their top prospects.

Global Warming

Oil Dependency

Hunger and Malnutrition

Dirty Air

Dirty Water



Drug-Resistant Infections

Waste Disposal
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