Imperial College London

Clearing the way for new diagnostics to tackle drug resistant infections

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Antimicrobial medication

Imperial researchers will lead a new network to improve the development of diagnostic tests which could help to tackle drug resistant infections.

A new international network aims to tackle some of the challenges facing those developing new diagnostics to combat antimicrobial resistance, helping them get their tests from a prototype to the patients who need them.

Coordinated by Dr Leonid Chindelevitch, from the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London, the B2B2B AMRDx network will bring together academics, clinicians, industry, governments and non-profit organisations, from 20 countries.

MRSA bacteria
Diagnostics are a key element in fighting antimicrobial resistance. A rapid, cheap and readily available test can tell us whether a bacterium, virus, fungus, or parasite is causing an infection, and so enable the correct type of antimicrobial to be used, such as the correct antibiotics to treat resistant strains like MRSA (pictured). Credit: Wikicommons / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Dr Chindelevitch said: “Being able to correctly diagnose the cause of an infection is fundamental to effectively treating it, as well as protecting the limited arsenal of antimicrobial drugs we have.

"This is particularly important now as no new class of antimicrobials has been developed for nearly 40 years. This new network will help the global community overcome some of the barriers it faces in developing new diagnostics, and we hope it will help get new rapid, near-patient diagnostics to the patients and clinicians who need them.

"We also hope that our work will help highlight the value of systematically using diagnostics in the treatment of infections.”

Growing threat of AMR

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing threat globally, as microbes become increasingly resistant to the drugs we use to combat them, rendering medications less effective and making infections harder to treat.

With limited new antimicrobial drugs being developed, ensuring the right drugs are used to treat infections is crucial, and help prevent the emergence of further resistance.

Being able to correctly diagnose the cause of an infection is fundamental to effectively treating it, as well as protecting the limited arsenal of antimicrobial drugs we have Dr Leonid Chindelevitch MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis

Diagnostics are a key element in fighting AMR. A rapid, cheap and readily available test can tell us whether a bacterium, virus, fungus, or parasite is causing an infection, and so enable the correct type of antimicrobial to be used i.e. using antibiotics for bacterial infections.1 

Through this new network, collaborators will create a comprehensive online AMR Diagnostics Developer Directory (ADDD) to help the exchange of ideas in the field.

They will also extend a Virtual Benchmarking Platform (VBP) to enable developers to evaluate their diagnostics using high-quality genomic and antimicrobial resistance data, to identify their strengths and weaknesses.

The network will also identify policy directions that can support the development and uptake of new diagnostics by accounting for the public health benefits of using AMR diagnostics. These developments will help AMR diagnostics cross the “valley of death” and help patients.

The network will have its virtual launch meeting on the 29th of November 2022, followed by an in-person workshop in Krakow, Poland in early 2023. 

The network will be launched through the Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance (JPIAMR) and will include 69 partners from 22 countries, with funding support from the UKRI Medical Research Council.

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1 In bacterial infections it is often important to correctly identify the bacterium causing the infection and the antibiotics that are suitable to use, as using an antibiotic to which this bacterium is either naturally resistant or has acquired resistance to due to previous treatment can result in treatment failure.

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Ryan O'Hare

Ryan O'Hare
Communications Division

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 2410
Email: r.ohare@imperial.ac.uk

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Antibiotics, Infectious-diseases
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