Researchers at the University of Dundee have been awarded £2.1million in funding to expand their work in the global battle against antimicrobial resistance, one of the major health problems facing the world in the 21st century.
Antimicrobial resistance means existing treatments for some infections no longer work, creating an urgent need for new approaches to prevention and treatment.
The funding award from the UK Government Department of Health and Social Care is to a team led by Dr Charis Marwick in the University’s School of Medicine, working with colleagues in the School of Life Sciences and NHS Tayside.
It will enable them to invest in state-of-the-art equipment to significantly boost their capability to sequence bacterial DNA, process and store the genetic information, and link it to patient information. The funding also supports early stage research using the new equipment.
Finding out more about what is driving antimicrobial resistance may subsequently lead to better methods of combatting it.
Dr Marwick said, “It is a globally recognised issue that bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to currently available antibiotics, making infections more difficult, and sometimes impossible, to treat.
“Designing the best approaches to tackle antibiotic-resistant infections has been hindered by the lack of detailed information about the bacteria and about the people who are at risk.
“Our work in Dundee involves broad-ranging research to tackle antibiotic resistant infections – from understanding the biology of bacterial cells to examining the effect of changes in clinical practice on resistant infections in the population.
“Bacterial genetic information and anonymised patient information is critical for this research. We have expertise in using these data, but our current facilities require upgrading to support rapid, stream-lined bacterial genetic analysis with data processing and linkage.
“This funding will allow us to invest in state-of-the-art equipment to do this. The new facilities will greatly enhance our research aimed at guiding prevention and treatment of antibiotic resistant infections now and in the future. This will also help attract talented researchers and students to Dundee to further enhance our research.”
The funding is part of a £32m package delivered by the UK Government to increase efforts to tackle antimicrobial resistance.
In 2016 the UK Government Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, chaired by Jim O’Neill, predicted that ‘failure to tackle drug-resistant infections will lead to at least 10 million extra deaths a year and cost the global economy up to $100 trillion (£64 trillion) by 2050’.