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Antibiotic dosage research to help save more lives in ICUs

27 September, 2011

New University of Queensland (UQ) research on optimising antibiotic dosages for intensive care patients aims to address the current 50 percent death rate associated with common infections.

UQ Foundation Research Excellence Award winner Dr Jason Roberts said a better understanding of how antibiotics behave in critically ill ICU patients and how to better calculate the therapeutic dosages would save lives.

"ICU patients don't react the same way to antibiotics as other ‘normal' patients, but there are no dosage guidelines for their treatment," Dr Roberts said.

"Previous research has consistently showed that antibiotics frequently do not reach therapeutic levels.

"This is a huge problem because it significantly affects the likelihood of survival."

The research is led by Dr Roberts, in collaboration with Director of Intensive Care at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital Dr Jeffrey Lipman and a Hong Kong research team lead by Professor Charles Gomersall.

It will focus on the interaction of disease processes and antibiotic distribution in ICU patients receiving kidney dialysis. "Severe kidney injury is common in ICU patients," he said.

"Our aim is to ensure that critically ill patients receiving dialysis rapidly achieve therapeutic concentrations of the antibiotic vancomycin at the site of infection to maximise their likelihood of survival."

Once researchers better understand disease and drug interactions, they will develop a quicker way to assess patient antibiotic levels, which can currently take days. Dr Roberts, who is based at the Burns Trauma & Critical Care Research Centre, will be awarded to enable this research.

He was one of 11 researchers recognised by the annual awards, which recognise outstanding performance and leadership potential among early-to-mid-career researchers.

Source: University of Queensland

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