New protocol for tracking genes will help health authorities preempt antibiotic resistance
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is recognised as a global health crisis far surpassing outbreaks of single diseases such as Ebola and HIV and on a par with climate change. Despite this, management of AMR has largely failed to stop or decrease its incidence in previously manageable diseases. On the eve of World Antibiotic Awareness Week, scientists at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and La Trobe University are offering a new ecological perspective on how AMR is defined, tested and monitored with the aim of getting a step ahead of the resistant material.
AMR happens when microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi develop resistance to medicines that were previously able to cure them.
Dr Carolyn Michael, of the UTS School of Life Sciences, working with colleague Dr Maurizio Labbate and La Trobe University microbial ecologist Dr Ashley Franks, says there has been insufficient focus on monitoring the root cause of the AMR crisis. A quicker, more accurate test is urgently required, the researchers say.
“Monitoring the crisis is largely limited to counting increasing numbers of resistant pathogens. Rather than monitoring pathogens we are proposing monitoring resistance genes that exist throughout the microbial world and not just in pathogens,” Dr Michael says.
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