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CDC Awards $14 Million to Studies on Antibiotic Resistance and Microbiome Health

OCT 10, 2016 | EINAV KEET
Combating antibiotic resistance requires thinking outside the [pill]box, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] has awarded scientists doing just that with more than $14 million in funding for new research and innovations by universities, nonprofits, and the business community.
 
The new grants are all part of the CDC’s Antibiotic Resistance Solutions Initiative, the agency’s effort to provide support to state and local public health, academic, healthcare, and veterinary partners in the battle against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The fight has many fronts and the CDC has announced new investments in research to discover and develop novels ways to prevent antibiotic-resistant infections and their spread, including applied research on the role of the microbiome.
 
It is known that on our skin and inside our gut, mouths, respiratory systems, and urinary tracts live a complex community of naturally-occurring and beneficial germs. As strange as it may be to think of bodies as their own ecosystems, it is a helpful way to visualize the workings of the human microbiome. The diverse mix of microorganisms the human body supports in turn help keep individuals healthy by fighting pathogens that they come in contact with and protect them from infection. When this array of microflora is unable to stop pathogens, antibiotics taken to stop an infection can wipe out or disrupt the good bacteria along with the bad. Without those good bacteria, an important line of defense is lost and individuals become more susceptible than ever to dangerous infections from drug-resistant superbugs such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridium difficile, and Carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae.
 
With this in mind, the new announcement from the CDC includes funding for more research looking into the microbiome to identify effective public health approaches that protect people, their microbiomes, and the effectiveness of antibiotics; it’s all part of a push for new solutions to fighting antibiotic resistance that emphasize prevention and a rollback on unnecessary antibiotic application. “Understanding the role the microbiome plays in antibiotic-resistant infections is necessary to protect the public’s health,” said CDC director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. He continued, “We think it is key to innovative approaches to combat antibiotic resistance, protect patients, and improve antibiotic use.”
 
In collaboration with researchers and investigators, the CDC hopes to learn more about how antibiotics disrupt a healthy microbiome, how a disrupted microbiome puts people at risk, and how antibiotic stewardship can protect the microbiome; this includes investigating new strategies to protect and restore the microbiome, predict the risk of disruption from antibiotic exposure, test microbiome measurements, and tailor antibiotic stewardship to each patient’s own microbiome.
 


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