Better diagnostics as part of multidisciplinary approach to antimicrobial resistance

18 Aug 2015

Written by Nina Cromeyer Dieke

Health sector watchdog NICE released new guidelines today calling for better systems and processes for effective antimicrobial medicine use. The guidelines encourage establishing stewardship programmes in all care settings to review prescription and resistance data and feed this information back to prescribers. The full recommendations can be found on their website.

The Longitude Prize is focusing on a breakthrough in diagnostic tools as part of multidisciplinary efforts to halt antimicrobial resistance. We will reward a groundbreaking diagnostics tool that is easy to use and affordable in different settings, operates at the point of care, and provides a result in less than 30 minutes about whether antibiotics are needed and if so, which ones. We have even imagined prototypes to show what these new techncologies could be like, as shown in the photo.

Curbing AMR is a complex problem requiring a multipronged approach that takes into consideration existing system resources and practices, and recognises the various stakeholders involved in decision-making around antibiotic use. All practitioners, for example, need to have the right tools available so that they can make a reliable and accurate call when deciding to prescribe antibiotics. This multitude of factors, coupled with the urgency of the problem, underlines the need for innovative solutions to the AMR problem.

Our £10million prize will reward an idea that best enables targeted use of antibiotics. Clinicians often prescribe broad spectrum antibiotics to sick patients because they have to act quickly on imperfect information. These methods put selective pressure on microbes to evolve resistance to antibiotics. Point-of-care test kits will allow more targeted use of antibiotics, and an overall reduction in misdiagnosis and prescription. Effective and accurate point of care tests will form a vital part of the toolkit for stewardship of antibiotics in the future. This will ensure that the antibiotics we have now will be effective for longer and we can continue to control infections during routine and major procedures.