Anti-Microbial Resistance Education and Innovation Efforts

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing problem that requires international collaboration to educate the general public and stakeholders, while simultaneously developing solutions.

Today was the second day of the World Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) Congress. The congress was in-person in Washington, DC, but Contagion is covering some of the most critical presentations from the 2-day conference.

AMR Awareness Campaigns: Communicating with Stakeholders AND the Unaware

This presentation was given by Sepsis Alliance President and CEO, Thomas Heymann, and Director of Communications, Alex Sadorf. Sepsis is the body’s extreme reaction to an infection, and though 1.7 million people are affected by sepsis each year, the condition is not widely known.

Any untreated infection can lead to sepsis, and AMR inhibits the treatment of some infections, thus increasing the risk of sepsis. As fewer drugs work effectively against infectious pathogens, sepsis cases will become increasingly difficult to treat, and there will be more mortalities among sepsis patients.

Sepsis Alliance conducted a global survey to understand the public’s knowledge of AMR, in Brazil, China, India, Spain, and the US. The results showed that only 52% of adults had heard of the term “antimicrobial resistance”; awareness was much higher for the term “antibiotic resistance.” Globally, many adults could not identify potential complications of an infection.

Sepsis Alliance found a troubling lack of awareness, knowledge, and understanding of AMR. The challenge of communicating this complex topic is complicated by Sepsis Alliance’s goal to reach medical providers and the general public, all of whom have differing levels of knowledge about AMR and its effects.

The goal of Sepsis Alliance is to make the public aware that they can actively prevent AMR. To do this, they employed the pneumonic P.O.W.E.R. in their informational advertising campaigns: Practice good hygiene and get vaccinated, Only take antimicrobials as prescribed, Watch out for those most vulnerable, Educate others on the risks of AMR, and Remain vigilant to avoid the risk of infection.

UK – A global AMR powerhouse: Opportunities and benefits through joint innovation and international collaboration

Because AMR can spread internationally, it must be fought internationally. Phil Packer, Innovation Lead of AMR and Vaccines at Innovate UK, and Maarten van Dongen, Director of AMR INSIGHTS Netherlands, gave a presentation on the collaborative efforts of several countries to create real solutions to stop AMR.

Dongen introduced AMR INSIGHTS and its work to inform, educate, and connect people on topics related to AMR. One such project is the development of a gamified program to improve antibiotic prescription. It is a 3-part series, consisting of a survey tool (“Are you resistant?”), a serious game (“Prescription Challenge”), and finally an online diagnostic tool.

Packer introduced AIMRAR, “An Integrated Microfluidic single cell Raman technology for rapid diagnosis of pathogens and their Antibiotic Resistance.” AIMRAR was developed and sponsored by researchers and companies in the UK and China.

Another recent development from the UK and China is Destiny Pharma: XF-73, a drug with antibacterial properties that combats biofilms. Packer said success of this enabled them to leverage it for more funding for bigger projects in the future.

Ideally, Packer wants the UK and US to collaborate on these innovations, holding an event to bring together scientists from both countries to pool their expertise on various areas of AMR.

Packer and Dongen stressed their mission of joint innovation and international collaboration, with a plan that includes early and translational research, research and development, microbial diagnostics, antimicrobial products, and vaccines.