What is Antibiotic Resistance?

What is Antimicrobial Resistance?

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) describes the process by which bacteria have evolved to resist the effects of antibiotics. Since the introduction of penicillin changed the face of modern medicine in 1941, bacterial infections have grown to resist these key components of medical treatment. 

Though a naturally occurring phenomenon, there are several factors that have accelerated the rate of global drug-resistance. These include: the inappropriate use of medicines, over-the-counter availability without prescription, industry marketing and influence, knowledge gaps in how to best manage antibiotics, and a lack of access to accurate, practical, affordable and rapid diagnostic testing.

As a result, bacterial infections have rapidly evolved to resist even the most powerful antibiotics of ‘last resort’, creating a collection of infections that can no longer be treated with current medicines available. These drug-resistant infections have become known as ‘superbugs’. The last class of antibiotics to be discovered was in 1987 and no new class of antibiotics has come to market since.

It is estimated that 700,000 people around the world each year die from a drug-resistant infection, and that this number will rapidly climb to 10 million a year by 2050 unless action is taken to slow the spread. Fortunately, there is much greater awareness of AMR and its causes within the global medical community, and an increasing understanding among the public and governments about how to take action to curb the rise of drug-resistant bacteria.

The importance of rapid point-of-care diagnostics

The development of a rapid point-of-care diagnostic test is essential to ensure and deliver improved stewardship of antibiotics for the future, enabling health professionals to administer the right drug at the right time. Today, tests used to identify bacterial infections are carried out in laboratories and typically take 2-3 days to produce an accurate test result. 

A new generation of rapid, accurate and affordable diagnostic tests that can be used anywhere in the world at point-of-care are essential for the sustainable stewardship of antibiotics in the short- and long-term. They will enable clinicians, nurses and pharmacists to quickly identify the presence of a bacterial infection in under 30 minutes and understand which antibiotic will be an effective treatment. 

Providing clinicians with these novel diagnostics, empowers them to make the best clinical and diagnostic decisions in the interest of their patients and for a future where antibiotics continue to work.