e-Science : Oct 2016 Issue 18
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has specifically made attempts to engage all nations to be proactive in addressing AMR development, highlighting that AMR is a global issue and is a “serious threat that is no longer a prediction for the future”. In Australia there are currently around 180,000 hospital acquired infections every year; close to 8,000 of these are by the bacterial pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, also known as Golden Staph. This is the bacteria that forms the “superbug”MRSA. In June 2015 the Australian Government published its first National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy (NAMRS), which included a combined strategy to target AMR in both human and animal industries. In 2016, the University of Adelaide has established the Australian Centre for Antimicrobial Resistance and Ecology (ACARE), which is directed at AMR surveillance and stewardship, antimicrobial development, and research across human and animal health, agriculture and ecology. Key scientific issues are identifying AMR, the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance and then providing an understanding of the mechanisms bacteria use to persist despite seemingly being killed by antibiotic, which leads to chronic and recurrent infections. AMR and new antibiotics The introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s unequivocally revolutionised medicine. The previous major diseases and causative agents for deaths now had a cure. Indeed, for the next 40 years or so, the prevalent attitude in medical and Click for slideshow biomedical research was that the war against infectious diseases had been won and resources should be directed towards chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. In the early days, there was great success in fighting bacterial infections in part because each new class of antibiotics had a different mechanism of action which targeted different processes in the bacterial cell. This meant that any resistance developed by bacteria to older antibiotics was overcome by the newer ones. After a golden age of antibiotic discovery, there has been a worrying lull in discovery and production. There are several reasons for this; the difficulty in accurate and appropriate screening assays and the rapid rate of bacterial development of antibiotic resistance, has meant that there has been a disengagement by the pharmaceutical industry to antibiotic research and development.
May 2016 Issue 17