The Medical Research Council (MRC) has welcomed a new report by an independent review which calls for global investment, better diagnostics, better surveillance and greater support for researchers in the international race to solve the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Antimicrobial resistance is a huge and complex problem for healthcare and agriculture. Antibiotics have been used to treat bacterial infections in humans and animals for 70 years, but these medicines are becoming less and less effective. No new classes of antibiotics have been discovered for 25 years and some strains of bacteria are now unharmed by the drugs designed to kill them.
In the UK alone £275 million has been spent on research in this area since 2007, yet, to date, no effective solutions have been found. It has been estimated that current antibiotics may become useless within the next two decades.
Economist Jim O’Neill was commissioned by the Prime Minister in July 2014 to review and make recommendations on a package of actions that should be agreed internationally to tackle antimicrobial resistance. In the new report announced today, he acknowledges the crucial role research has to play and calls for investment in a global innovation fund to support blue sky science.
The research councils have already committed £28.5 million to improve our understanding of resistance, and ultimately, our ability to develop new drugs and therapies. The MRC plays a leading role in the international effort to find a solution to the growing resistance of infections to antibiotic drugs. It leads the seven UK research councils in an historic ‘war cabinet’ co-ordinate and stimulate research across all areas impacted by antimicrobial resistance – from labs to livestock, drawing together a range of scientific expertise from the UK and abroad.
In addition, the MRC established the Antimicrobial Resistance Funders’ Forum (AMRFF) to encourage a coordinated approach to tackling AMR. AMRFF brings together the seven research councils with health departments, governmental bodies and charities that either provide support for AMR research or have an interest in AMR. The Forum aims to provide a strategic overview of AMR research in the UK and to create a shared vision for the future of AMR research and its potential impact on policy and treatments.
Professor Sir John Savill, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council, which leads the UK cross council war cabinet on AMR research said:
“Picture a world where a cut finger could kill you. You don’t have to look far. Only 100 years ago, a quarter of all deaths were due to bacterial infections. We know there’s no magic bullet to the AMR problem. Tackling the issue will depend heavily on research that is connected, multidisciplinary and that takes global perspective. As the O’Neill review suggests, real change needs proper global investment. What we do know is that the UK model on AMR research is an exemplar of how to bring researchers from all disciplines and backgrounds together. We have the expertise, experience and the imperative. We need to act now.”
For further information on the cross council initiative to address AMR click here.
For information about what research is currently taking place on AMR click here.
Source: Medical Research Council