World Antimicrobial Awareness Week

“No matter how hard antibiotics try they will never go viral…”

Well, this world antimicrobial awareness week the news should go “viral” to give humanity a chance in the fight against anti-microbial resistance (AMR).

The emergence of AMR has been attributed to the prevalent, widespread, and indiscriminate use of antimicrobials. This has resulted in pathogens developing novel resistance mechanisms to existing treatment options, rendering many ineffective. Consequently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified AMR as one of the top ten global health challenges1 facing the world at this time. In 2019 the WHO released a Global Action Plan2 targeted at increasing antimicrobial stewardship awareness. Pathology laboratories play an important role in antimicrobial stewardship as they provide clinicians with essential data to treat patients and inform the most effective use of antimicrobial agents.

Since the 20th century antimicrobial medications have played a vital role in controlling numerous diseases in humans, animals and even plants, and have contributed significantly to improved health outcomes worldwide. However, since the 1970’s there have been almost no new classes of antibiotics developed3, while the number of antimicrobial resistant pathogens have constantly increased. Hospital acquired infections of multi-resistant organisms continue to rise along with mortality and morbidity. As a result, common infections are becoming harder to treat, requiring higher doses of antimicrobial medications, or alternative medications which can be toxic to patients.

Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing (AST) results inform clinicians to treat patients with appropriate antimicrobials in a timely manner, helping in the fight against life threatening conditions such as sepsis and avoiding anaphylactic complications resulting from incorrect use of antimicrobials. Millions of ASTs are undertaken each year in laboratories across the globe. In the US over 2.8 million antimicrobial resistant infections occur each year causing more than 35,000 deaths4, while in Europe AMR is responsible for 33,000 deaths each year5. AMR has a global impact on economic health burdens.

Clever Culture Systems is developing a new analysis module, APAS®-AMR for the APAS Independence to help fight against AMR by facilitating good practice in antimicrobial stewardship. The APAS®-AMR analysis module is designed to fully automate AST disc diffusion plate reading, using artificial intelligence and innovative digital image analysis to speed up the delivery of accurate and consistent AST measurements. This will help clinical microbiologists rapidly diagnose and deliver AMR information to clinicians to help minimise delays to patient care.

“This will help clinical microbiologists rapidly diagnose and deliver AMR information to clinicians to help minimise delays to patient care.”

High level antimicrobial resistance of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The organism is unaffected by the antimicrobial discs used for testing. Image captured using APAS Independence

High level antimicrobial resistance of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The organism is unaffected by the antimicrobial discs used for testing. Image captured using APAS Independence.

1 De Oliveira, et al., 2020. Antimicrobial Resistance in ESKAPE Pathogens. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, 33(3), pp.2-49.

2 Pilmis B, et al., 2019. Clinical impact of rapid susceptibility testing on MHR-SIR directly from blood cultures. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 74(10), pp.3063-3068.

3 Carvalho G, et al., 2019. Antibiotic resilience a necessary concept to complement antibiotic resistance? Proceedings. Biological Sciences.

4 Centres for Disease Control and Prevention., 2020. Antibiotic, Antimicrobial Resistance (AR / AMR). Available here.

5 European Commission., 2020. Antimicrobial Resistance, EU Action on Antimicrobial Resistant. European Commission. Available here.