Antimicrobial Resistance

We contribute to understanding the causes and risk factors for antimicrobial resistance, and to developing new drugs and vaccines.

Resistance to antimicrobial drugs poses a serious risk to the progress made in global health in the past decades.

Antibiotic resistance is an important global public health challenge and threatens our ability to treat infectious diseases. Resistance to first-line drugs also increases health care costs, since infections last longer (more days at the hospital) and become more expensive to treat.

Antimicrobial resistance is a natural process by which microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi and other pathogens) develop resistance to the drugs used to fight them. The abuse and misuse of antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs favours the development and spread of resistant microorganisms, and generates the need for alternative treatments that are effective against such pathogens. However, the number of new approved drugs is declining, with only three new antibiotics receiving approval in the last 30 years.

 

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The growing number of drug-resistant bacteria poses an increasing threat to the effectiveness of existing antibiotics. Indeed, only 3 new antibiotics have received approval in the last 30 years

Jordi Vila, Director of the Antimicrobial Resistance Initiative

Antimicrobial resistance also concerns other, non-bacterial diseases. Resistance of the malaria parasite to the antimalarial drugs chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrethamine is widespread in most countries where malaria is endemic; in addition, the emergence of artemisinin-resistant P. falciparum parasites has been reported in South-East Asia. Resistance is also an increasing concern in the treatment of HIV infection due to the rapid increase in the availability of antiretroviral therapy in recent years.  

Key facts

250,000 people die every year in the European Union from infections caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria
1,500 million € is the annual cost associated with infections by multiresistant bacteria in Europe
400,000 new cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis every year, worldwide

Fighting resistant pathogens requires responsible action and participation of all members  of society. Importantly, we need to:  

  • strengthen current systems for tracking and monitoring antibiotic resistance 
  • ensure access to quality-assured essential drugs and promote the rational use of antibiotics in both humans and animals  
  • improve the prevention and control of infections
  • promote research, innovation and development of new tolos (antibiotics, vaccines, etc.) 

ISGlobal's Antimicrobial Resistance Initiative is designed to help to fight the growing emergence and spread of pathogens resistant to antimicrobial drugs from a multidisciplinary approach through the institute's core activities: research, training, technical assistance and analysis.

Highlighted Projects of the Initiative:

International Research Partnership for prioritising antimicrobial resistance: The Wellcome Trust-funded project seeks to establish an interdisciplinary network to strengthen antimicrobial resistance research that crosses biomedical and social science as well as geographic barriers. The project, coordinated by the Centre of Global Health of the University of Sussex, also involves the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and the Institute of Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Hygiene (IMMH) at the University of Cologne.

 

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