Following the declaration by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that antimicrobial resistance is one of the top global public health threats facing humanity, a 5-year long project is now underway to find the best and most effective forms of defence against this growing problem.

The UK Antimicrobial Registry (UKAR) study, led by Professor Gary Macfarlane from the University of Aberdeen, will incorporate information from hospitals across the UK to achieve a multi-stakeholder registry of antimicrobial agents.

Funded by the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, the study will determine which antibiotics are the most effective and best able to control the threat of antimicrobial resistance.

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria, fungi and viruses mutate over time and no longer respond to medicines. This can make infections harder to treat and increases the spread of disease. One common example, MRSA, often labelled a ‘superbug’ is an example of a bacteria that has become resistant to commonly used antibiotics and as such proves difficult to treat and can lead to serious illness and even death.

The UKAR study will look at how effective eleven new-to-market antibiotics are; how well they work, how good they are at treating different infections and how they are currently being used in UK hospitals on infections that cannot currently be treated. The resulting registry will help doctors and scientists navigate the ever-changing microbial environment and keep the threat of antimicrobial resistance at bay.

Professor Macfarlane who is leading the project said: “Antimicrobial resistance is a real threat to our ability to treat common infections and is one that demands urgent attention.

"Currently available antibiotics are becoming less effective against some infections, so it is vital that we use them appropriately.

“The UK Antimicrobial Registry study will look at the effectiveness and safety of new antimicrobial medications which are used to stop the growth of micro-organisms that can cause disease.

“These medications are a vital part of modern medicine and include antibiotics (which target bacteria), antivirals (targeting viruses), and antifungals (targeting fungal infections).

“This work will help us find out how widely these medicines are used across the UK, why they are being prescribed, and how effective they are.”

Dr Noha El-Sakka, Consultant, Medical Microbiology and Virology at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary who is leading the NHS Grampian arm of the study added: “Antimicrobial resistance represents a global challenge and the need for new antimicrobial agents is becoming more and more essential.

“The UKAR study is an exciting project that will help address and shed light on the available new antimicrobial agents, and the clinical value of their use particularly in the context of limited available other option. This is much needed information, and data from the study is going to be an extremely valuable resource to help shape the strategy for management of infection in the future.”

To learn more about the UKAR Study and other research led by the University of Aberdeen Epidemiology group, visit the website.

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