ST. LOUIS, Mo.– In recent decades, antibiotics have been losing their punch against some types of bacteria called Superbugs. Each year these drug-resistant bacteria infect more than 2 million people nationwide and kill at least 23,000, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Five academic research medical centers will receive $26,000,000 so researchers can try to stay ahead of them. Washington University in St. Louis is getting part of the money, and they’ll be collaborating with Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Spokesman Charles Jolie at Rush says these bugs keep evolving. cdc

“When they survive exposure to an antibiotic agent, the surviving bacteria pass on those traits to further generations of bacteria, that’s how resistance forms and as new drugs are developed, or not developed, they become more resistant.”

The CDC funding goes through 2020 and also includes Duke University and the University of North Carolina, University of California Irvine and the University of Pennsylvania. The CDC says antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs for people and are effective against bacterial infections, like strep throat and some types of pneumonia, diarrheal diseases, and ear infections. But Jolie says they don’t work at all against viruses, including those that cause colds or flu.

“If these strains of resistant bacteria aren’t checked, it would really dramatically change our medical system. Common procedures, common surgeries would have to be postponed and the cost would rise because the new antibiotics that are being developed are costly and scarce.”

About one in 25 patients in U.S. hospitals gets an infection while receiving medical treatment for other conditions, and in some hospitals, antibiotic-resistant bacteria cause one in four catheter and surgery-related infections.