Australian researchers are calling for more investment in finding out when, where and how current antibiotic treatments are working, as drug-resistant bacteria (superbugs) continue to spread globally.
With governments and industry uniting to incentivise the development of new antibiotics, Industry Associate Research Professor Branwen Morgan, from the University of Technology Sydney, said data was crucial to effectively targeting and distributing existing and new medicines.
“Antibiotic resistance threatens millions of lives and our regional economies,” A/Prof. Morgan said.
“We need real-time data to keep up with the constantly changing patterns and levels of antibiotic resistance in different regions and countries.
“High-quality surveillance data is essential in determining what diagnostics and treatments will have the greatest benefit for a particular community.”
Infectious diseases expert Professor Peter Collignon said the location-specific impacts of drug-resistant bacteria needed better measurement and management.
“Genomic technologies will help monitor the movement of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and set a baseline,” Prof. Collignon said.
“We need to fill the data gaps when it comes to the spread of superbugs between human, animal and environmental vectors. Then we can pinpoint superbug hotspots and predict the next generation of drug-resistant genes that are going to show up in local clinics and hospitals.”
A/Prof. Morgan said more emphasis was needed on generating and aggregating DNA sequencing data from bacteria to facilitate a larger, more precise encyclopedia of biomarkers to help design new diagnostic tests.
“High-tech antimicrobial surveillance systems such as OUTBREAK will help governments and industry know precisely which technologies and medicines they should invest in, protecting their return on investment,” she said.
Prof. Collignon, who is also an advisor to OUTBREAK, said data would also help determine which patients were at high risk of a life-threatening superbug infections.
“Having a consistent and evidenced-informed way to prioritise patients would provide better health outcomes and save precious health dollars. Investing in real-time connected data would pay for itself many times over.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Branwen Morgan, +61 413 817343
Branwen Morgan is a speaker at the World One Health Congress #WOHC20. Her talk is entitled OUTBREAK: A big data and AI approach for tracking, tracing and tackling One Health AMR
Hi-tech AMR surveillance data will:
- Lead to better diagnostic tools and technologies for healthcare professionals
- Help extend the life of current and new antibiotics by flagging when existing drugs will still be effective or when newer, more costly ones are necessary
- Uncover novel data-driven insights through the collation and integration of disparate datasets
- Provide new knowledge on harmful bacteria and the reservoirs where they evolve
- Create new AMR-solution driven industries which can achieve global scale
- Protect industry investment, economies and ultimately, save lives
OUTBREAK is a pioneering multi-institutional and transdisciplinary initiative helping solve the growing threat of antibiotic resistance by using AI to determine a location-specific and person-specific threat of a drug-resistant infection now and in the future.
OUTBREAK platform technology is a world first, high-tech system taking a One Health approach, gathering hundreds of diverse datasets across humans, animals and the environment and combining them to track, trace and tackle drug-resistant infections in real-time.
OUTBREAK data can be used to reduce inappropriate use of antibiotics (smart prescribing), lower environmental contamination due to antibiotic residues, and provide decision-making support to GPs, healthcare administrators, governments and industry.
The OUTBREAK consortium is led by the University of Technology Sydney. Collaborators include: CSIRO, University of Wollongong, University of South Australia, University of Newcastle, NSW Government (Department of Primary Industries and Department of Health – Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District), Sax Institute, Quadram Institute of Biosciences (UK), Southern IML Pathology (now part of Sonic Healthcare Ltd), Microba, MicroGEM (UK), Mimesis and Oracle.