Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and microbial stress responses

Since the discovery of penicillin in 1928, antibiotics have been at the forefront of infectious disease therapeutics, rendering many bacterial diseases readily treatable. Naïve and over-extensive use of these drugs however, has led to widespread selection for antimicrobial resistant (AMR) strains of the most dangerous pathogens, rendering many infections untreatable.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) predict that the burden of disease caused by AMR infections is set to increase exponentially without the development of novel drugs, and stewardship programs.

Antimicrobial resistance is a social dilemma, and therefore part of our network involves the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities (CSSAH).

There are a number of influences on antibiotic prescribing, these are social, cultural and organisational, in combination with the individual decision making taking into account short and long term benefits. 'Society at large' must be considered by healthcare providers as well as the patient as an individual. A significant influence on prescription of antibiotics is the moral values and customs of the community setting in which the healthcare is provided. Therefore prescribing antibiotics can be strongly influenced by the local and national context.

Microbial Sciences research applies fundamental genetic mechanisms and state-of the art technologies to the study of bacterial genomes, horizontal gene transfer and the mechanisms responsible for high frequency generation of genetic variation in microbial genomes. All of these processes are key to the remarkable ability of bacteria to adapt to changing selective pressures (for example exposure to antibiotics and hostile immune responses).

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