The Quadram Institute is helping to address antimicrobial resistance, by gaining new knowledge and understanding of how resistance arises, and how resistant bacteria survive and are transmitted in the food chain.

Antimicrobial resistance is now a major threat to modern medicine, reducing our ability to prevent or cure disease. Without action now, we may be faced with even more reduced options for combating infections, placing an enormous burden on already stretched public health care systems. The UK government, the UN and the World Health Organisation are all leading initiatives to raise awareness of the problem and deliver solutions to protect our ability to fight infectious diseases on the global scale.

The Quadram Institute is helping to address antimicrobial resistance by gaining new knowledge and understanding of how resistance arises and how resistant bacteria survive and are transmitted in the food chain.

The food chain is a significant route by which infectious bacteria enter our bodies, and may also be a significant source of antimicrobial resistance. We want to understand what drives the evolution of antimicrobial resistance in foodborne pathogens, what the selection pressures are, and what conditions are needed for it to arise.

The Quadram Institute contains the interdisciplinary research expertise spanning the whole food chain, allowing us to apply advanced genomic techniques to tracking the development and spread of AMR in microbiological populations in soil, in animals, in food, in the environment and inside the human body, including the impact of complex microbial communities such as the gut microbiome.

Our studies concentrate on how antimicrobial resistance genes emerge, evolve and spread within the food chain. Through the collection and analysis of genomic material obtained from different environments within the food chain, we will build up a major data resource for tracing AMR emergence in the food chain, and understand how it drives survival strategies, such as biofilm formation. In collaboration with the Earlham Institute and the Roslin Institute we will establish this dataset as a community resource for UK science.

Identifying the factors driving AMR emergence in foodborne pathogens will help us to identify where interventions are most likely to have an impact, and to design new strategies to prevent this happening. Intervention strategies could focus on food production, through our strong collaborative ties with the food industry, or may focus on the human gut microbiome, where we can explore the deployment of ‘smart’ probiotics against resistance pathogens.

Targeting antimicrobial resistance

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