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International team set to fight antimicrobial resistant superbugs

02 August, 2016

University of Queensland researchers are leading an international effort to slow the emergence of antimicrobial-resistant superbugs forecast to kill more people than cancer by 2050.

A Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) launched on 29 July 2016 to strengthen regional and global responses to antimicrobial resistance brings together leading scientists and clinicians from more than 10 countries.

UQ School of Medicine and Pharmacy Professor Jason Roberts said the CRE in REdefining antimicrobial use to reDUce resistanCE (CRE REDUCE) included experts in intensive care, infectious diseases, biostatistics and clinical trials.

"World health authorities estimate 10 million deaths a year will be caused by antimicrobial resistant superbugs by 2050, compared to 8.2 million from cancer," Professor Roberts said.

"Our research aims to slow this dire trajectory and buy more time for researchers developing new antimicrobials, a process which takes at least 13 years.

"The situation is urgent – increasingly we are seeing patients infected with bacteria that are resistant to all our antimicrobials."

Professor Roberts said resistant superbugs had to be tackled on multiple fronts, including with surveillance of antibiotic use and better use of existing antibiotics.

"Creating better dosing strategies for the antibiotics we currently have is an important step, particularly in difficult-to-treat cases and at-risk groups," he said.

"It is essential that experts in basic, clinical and translational science collaborate to generate new approaches to treating patients, which can then be shared with doctors around the world as soon as possible.

"The centre links international research leaders from Australia with those overseas to accelerate the translation of research findings into clinical practice, based on rigorous evidence."

Professor Roberts said the centre aimed to train large numbers of new researchers as well as medical and pharmacy interns and undergraduates in antimicrobial practice.

"We will also be working to develop international capacity by fostering post-graduate and post-doctoral fellow research."

The CRE has been funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and will use research facilities at the RBWH Herston campus.

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