Antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing problem in hospitals and other healthcare settings, as bacteria and other micro-organisms develop resistance to antibiotics.

Common AMR pathogens (micro-organisms that can cause disease) are MRSA and C. difficile. This is a huge challenge for health professionals and this theme aims to help them make the best clinical decisions in tackling AMR.

We link up local expertise with the wealth of patient data available and use state-of-the-art technologies to look at how pathogens survive in patients during antibiotic treatment. To help us, we conduct studies in clinics that are threatened by antibiotic resistant micro-organisms, using whole genome sequencing (WGS) and sophisticated software to map out the transmission of pathogens among patients in hospitals and in communities.

Salmonella Typhi

If we can work out how resistance is evolving, and how resistant genes transmit (or pass) from micro-organism to micro-organism, we may be able to better control AMR.

WGS has revolutionised our understanding of how bacteria evolve and diversify, and how AMR emerges. Together with other UK scientists we have sequenced (figured out the order) of more than 200,000 bacterial genomes (the complete set of genes). This data is available for scientists to monitor emerging AMR threats and for analysis. We are also looking at small populations of bacteria in the lab, and how they respond to known antibiotics or to new compounds with the potential to be antibacterial.

Watch a one minute video of Professor Gordon Dougan talks about antimicrobial resistance research