Imagine a world in which your morning shave or an afternoon pottering in the garden poses a major risk to your life. Or the medical breakthroughs that have led to organ transplantation and cancer treatment are no longer viable and no treatment exists.
This could be a reality if the “ticking time bomb” of anti-microbial resistance (AMR) is left unchallenged.
In less than 40 years, almost half of all worldwide deaths are predicted to be caused by resistant infections. Medicine, as we know it today, will be unrecognisable, as small cuts become potentially life threatening. Routine operations for ailments such as tonsillitis or appendicitis could be abandoned, deemed too risky, and childbirth will become a whole lot more dangerous.
When Sir Alexander Fleming collected his Nobel Prize for the discovery of penicillin, he predicted that a time would come when microbes become resistant to antibiotics. Despite this, there has been no new class of antibiotic discovered since 1987 and some diseases which have been routinely treated by antibiotics, such as gonorrhoea, are becoming resistant and are now on the rise.
It is clear from articles in the press that the warnings and calls for increased funding for research are beginning to be listened to. But while new classes of drugs are desperately required, there is also an urgent need for better management to ensure our existing therapies are used appropriately. The efficacy of these new drugs, and those that are already available, can be maximised if measurement considerations, such as ensuring adequate reproducibility of diagnostic test results that direct their use, are considered from the outset.
In its role as UK designated National Measurement Institute for chemical and bio-measurement, LGC is conducting research into the accuracy of methods for AMR analysis and to determine how best to support reproducible AMR measurement.
This research aims to develop quantitative, validated and highly accurate methodologies to support current and emerging molecular approaches for diagnosis, surveillance and monitoring of infectious diseases.
This will significantly improve the accuracy, reliability and comparability of respiratory pathogen diagnostics, thus contributing to greater confidence in public health monitoring and improved healthcare.