New global hubs to study antimicrobial resistance in humans

Tuesday May 09 2023
KEMRI medical laboratory

Lab Scientists working on sample tests at Kenya Medical Research Institute on April 7, 2020. A new study will focus on strategies to improve the use of antibiotics and its impact on antimicrobial resistance. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG


A new global research consortium to help fight antimicrobial resistance in humans is being set up in regions with extremely high burden of drug-resistant infections and in communities most affected by escalating infectious diseases.

The new initiative will help to improve clinical decision-making regarding antimicrobial use and to inform practices and guidelines for prescribers, users and policymakers.

“The researchers will build knowledge relating to the optimised use of antibiotics, improved access to effective treatment and better prevention and treatment of bacterial infections,” said a press release from the University of Liverpool, dated April 27.

The Infectious Diseases Institute in Uganda will be one of the global hubs used to illustrate optimisation of antimicrobial use.
Brought together by the Centres for Antimicrobial Optimisation Network (CAMO-Net), research teams from the Infectious Diseases Institute in Uganda, the University of Cape Town, the Faculty of Medicine at the University of São Paulo and the University of Liverpool and Imperial College London in the UK are aiming to address the global impact of antimicrobial resistance on human health.

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“Our engagement in the CAMO-Net grant is a landmark opportunity to generate new knowledge and mitigate the looming threat of antimicrobial resistance in the region. We are keen to leverage our 20-year experience in combatting and studying infectious diseases in Africa to influence leadership and empower the rising generation of scientists in the Global South,” said Andrew Kambugu, executive director of the Infectious Diseases Institute in Uganda.


Global risk

Even though antibiotics have been saving millions of lives for decades, the rise of drug-resistant infections – which are killing hundreds of thousands of people every year – is now one of the biggest threats to global health.

“The connection between the use of antibiotics and bacterial resistance has been extensively studied. Over time, as antibiotics are used, resistance appears and leads to their obsolescence,” said Prof Anna Levin of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of São Paulo. “It is imperative that we improve the use of these drugs if we want to extend the useful life of antibiotics.”

The study will focus on strategies to improve the use of antibiotics in the community, and the impact that this may have on antimicrobial resistance, including in patients, health workers, and the environment in wastewater and drinking water.

Four hubs have been selected and each has specific and complementary multidisciplinary research expertise.
CAMO-Net also includes three shadow national sites which will develop a pilot project.

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The sites include Dow University of Health Sciences in Pakistan, Child Health Research Foundation in Bangladesh and Unversidade da Paz in Timor Leste.

Generating knowledge

“The network will harness the power of data through strategic and targeted studies to generate new knowledge, implement co-produced, contextually fit, and sustainable solutions to optimise antimicrobial use, and evaluate these interventions and strategies using an intersectional approach,” said the press release.

“Antibiotics have been saving millions of lives for decades, but their effectiveness is under increasing pressure. Our funding for CAMO-Net will support research that generates new knowledge about how best to preserve and sustain their efficacy, drawing on local contexts where the burden of drug-resistant infections is highest.

“This will help guide more effective and tailored interventions from policymakers and prescribers, ensuring patients can continue to benefit from these lifesaving medicines into the future,” said Timothy Jinks, head of Infectious Disease Interventions at Wellcome.