Research Councils UK highlights initiatives to tackle antimicrobial resistance

Big BenYesterday, Research Councils UK (RCUK) – the partnership of the UK’s seven research councils – set out the initiatives they are taking to tackle the serious issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). RCUK was responding to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s recent report Ensuring access to working antimicrobials, which highlighted the need for ‘improved stewardship to extend the effective life of existing antimicrobials and increased innovation to develop new treatments.’

Responding to the Science and Technology Committee’s call for strategic coordinated action, RCUK highlighted that under the umbrella of the Antimicrobial Resistance Funder’s Forum (AMRFF), the research councils, along with other governmental bodies and charities, are now collaborating together to better support, coordinate and raise the profile of AMR research, both in the UK and internationally.

RCUK addressed a number of specific recommendations made in the Science and Technology Committee’s report, including the need to accelerate the delivery of diagnostic tools to limit and target the use of antibiotics, better collaboration between researchers working in the fields of animal and human AMR, and the need to address a lack of information on the environmental drivers of AMR.

RCUK agreed that Government focus on developing new economic models to promote the development of new antimicrobial drugs was essential, but highlighted that this still depends on there being a pipeline of potential new treatments, which requires basic research into resistance and increasing the identification of new antimicrobial sources.

Responding to criticism from the Science and Technology Committee about the lack of industry and learned society voices in the Government’s AMR High Level Steering Group, RCUK noted better engagement with industry, including the inclusion of the Technology Strategy Board in the AMRFF.

We at the Society for General Microbiology are pleased to see RCUK recognise the importance of collaborative work being undertaken between members of the AMRFF and the recently formed Learned Societies Partnership on AMR, of which the Society is a member.

Importantly, the AMRFF recognise that AMR can only be tackled through supporting and promoting multidisciplinary work in a number of key areas of research. These range from: basic research into the development and transmission of resistance; accelerating the development of new antibiotics and diagnostics for AMR through better funding; infrastructure and engagement between academia and industry; and increasing research into how human behaviour can both promote and inhibit AMR.

Paul Richards

You can read the Select Committee’s report on the Parliamentary website.
You can read RCUK’s response on the Parliamentary website.
The Department of Health have written their own response to the Select Committee report.

Image Credit: Mr G’s Travels on Flickr under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
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