The spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an urgent, global threat, raising the possibility of a world without effective antibiotics. Professor Paul Heath and Professor Mike Sharland are currently working on global projects to tackle the threat of AMR.
Among the initiatives being planned to prevent (or at least control) such a crisis, special attention is required for newborn babies (neonates), since their immune system is not yet fully developed, and therefore they are particularly vulnerable to infection. At present, treatments are delivered often without knowledge of optimal dosing, exposure and efficacy of the drugs, off label use, inappropriate choices given the pathogens and resistance patterns involved, and inadequate formulations. A solution for this vulnerable group is urgently required.
Mike Sharland, Paul Heath and the Paediatric Infectious Disease Research Group are now collaborating in a range of projects with the Global Antibiotic Research & Development Partnership (GARDP), a joint initiative by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) to tackle this global threat. One of the collaborative studies that has just been launched is the NeoAMR programme on neonatal sepsis. This aims to provide an evidence base for the optimal use of antibiotics, both old and new, in neonates with multi-drug-resistant infections, as the currently available standard of care in many countries is increasingly becoming less effective due to antimicrobial resistance.
To kick off this programme, Mike and Paul will now be conducting the Neonatal Observational Study (NeoOBS 1) aiming to prospectively characterise mortality rates in infants in NNU treated for clinical sepsis. They will be collecting data from ~4,000 babies in 17 hospitals across the four WHO regions. The study is being led from St George's, with €2.2 million in direct funding.