Make AMR History campaign

The predictions are gloomy. Based on figures gathered by the UK government, deaths due to antibiotic resistant infections are going to overtake cancer deaths by 2050, when an estimated 10 million people will die from resistant infections worldwide every year. Already, 25,000 people die from antibiotic resistant infections every year in Europe and it is getting worse faster than we can keep up with new antibiotics.

At the start of 2015 Lab Without Walls decided that it was time for action, and has made a start on quicker, more efficient ways to detect antimicrobial resistance, or AMR for short. We have assembled an international expert group to support our development project, and are working with them on an ultra-fast clinical laboratory method. With support from friends and associates of Lab Without Walls, local Rotarians and the Health Department of Western Australia, we obtained a flow cytometer for AMR method development. The group has launched a project aimed at the UK’s Longitude Prize.

The task ahead of us is to complete a systematic validation of the many forms of antibiotic resistance that currently impact on clinical practice. While our Flow Assisted Susceptibility Test (FAST) takes less than one hour, the current international reference method is much slower but has to be completed on a selection of resistant bacteria for each antibiotic/bacterium combination to meet stringent clinical lab standards. We know this will take 18 months – that’s around $1 per minute of development time. But this is an urgent task. We need to get quicker and slicker if we’re going to buy time for patients with nasty resistant infections. A delay of only one hour in starting the right antibiotic for severe bloodstream infection increases the risk of death from infection. And we know that the FAST method reduces an 18 hour test to less than one hour. We’d like to develop an even faster AMR screening test, and miniaturise it to run on a handheld device in your doctor’s clinic, the emergency department, veterinary practice or anywhere AMR is likely to be a problem.

We urgently need to build an early warning network, with partners in other states and overseas. Building this will take time, effort, equipment and laboratory reagents. This matters to us all. The time to act is here and now, before we lose the benefits of antibiotics to a tidal wave of resistance.

Every dollar gets us a minute closer to making AMR history. Make your dollars count. Read more by visiting the campaign website Make AMR History.

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