Antimicrobial Resistance: Rising to the challenge of a global health time bomb

Antibiotics underpin all of modern medicine, but their use is being threatened by growing resistance in bacteria, fungi and viruses.

Antibiotic resistant bacteria currently kill over 700,000 people per year globally, but this number is predicted to rise to 10 million if we can’t stop the growth in antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

This workshop, led by Associate Professor Mat Upton, addressed an issue that has relevance to everybody – we have all felt the benefit of antibiotics and the World Health Organization states that their introduction has added over 20 years to the human life span.

However, a recent worrying development is the announcement by the Office of National Statistics (1 December 2017) that antibiotic resistance has now led to a reduction in our predicted life span. 

You were invited to find out how we screen naturally occurring bacteria for new antibiotics and use cutting-edge DNA sequencing methods to find new antibiotics and identify resistance in bacteria.

In this interactive session, attendees participated in the very early stages of the antibiotic discovery process and had hands-on experience of the most advanced DNA sequencing technology available.

Join the conversation on social media with #Plymresfest.

Key messages on antibiotic use is available on the UK government website. There is guidance on how to use antibiotics responsibly for patients, animal keepers and pet owners, and prescribers.

Further information is also available via the World Health Organization website.

Antibiotic Guardian

Antibiotic Guardian supports the UK Antimicrobial Resistance strategy, annual European Antibiotic Awareness Day (18 November) and World Antibiotic Awareness Week.

Pledge now to become an Antibiotic Guardian!

  • Atria A, Portland Square Building

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17:00: Welcome - Associate Professor Mat Upton


The threat that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) poses to global human health: an introduction to the topic - Associate Professor Mat Upton

World leading AMR research at the University of Plymouth that is helping to address this major issue: insight into the work of the Antibiotic Resistant Pathogens research group - Associate Professor Mat Upton and Dr Garry Farnham

  • Screening naturally occurring bacteria for new antibiotics
  • Cutting-edge DNA sequencing methods to find new antibiotics
  • Identifying resistance in bacteria

18:00–20:00: Interactive workshops

  • 18:00 - sequencing
  • 19:00 - antibiotic discovery

Attendees were able to get involved in the very early stages of the antibiotic discovery process and had hands-on experience of the most advanced DNA sequencing technology available.

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Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest significant threats to global health that is facing us today.

KEY FACTS (source: WHO factsheet)

  • Antibiotic resistance can affect anyone, of any age, in any country.
  • Antibiotic resistance occurs naturally, but misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process.
  • A growing number of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea, and salmonellosis – are becoming harder to treat as the antibiotics used to treat them become less effective.
  • Antibiotic resistance leads to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs and increased mortality.

Antibiotics are medicines used to prevent and treat bacterial infections. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in response to the use of these medicines. Bacteria, not humans or animals, become antibiotic resistant. 

These bacteria may infect humans and animals, and the infections they cause are harder to treat than those caused by non-resistant bacteria.

Why antibiotic resistance is relevant to you:

Antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world. Without effective antibiotics many routine treatments will become increasingly dangerous. Setting broken bones, basic operations, even chemotherapy and animal health all rely on access to antibiotics that work.

Without urgent action, we are heading for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries can once again kill.

WHAT WE WANT YOU TO DO: To slow resistance we need to cut the unnecessary use of antibiotics. We invite the public, students and educators, farmers, the veterinary and medical communities and professional organisations, to become 'Antibiotic Guardians'. 

Antibiotic Guardians’ pledge to help raise the profile of antibiotic resistance – you can sign up via the 'Pledge now!' button above.

CALL TO ACTION: Choose one simple pledge about how you’ll make better use of antibiotics and help save these vital medicines from becoming obsolete.

Discover more about our research in the following areas:

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