US$3.8 Million Awarded To Tackle Antibacterial Resistance In Thailand

The Global Challenges Research Fund awarded the grant to an interdisciplinary group studying two species of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in Thailand.

AsianScientist (Jul. 18, 2018) – Research on antimicrobial resistance in Thailand will get a £2.9 million (~US$3.8 million) boost from the Global Challenges Research Fund. The funding was secured by an interdisciplinary research consortium led by the University of Bristol.

Antimicrobial resistance—specifically, antibacterial resistance (ABR)—is a growing threat to human health and economic development across the globe. In Thailand, ABR was estimated to cause 38,000 deaths. The predicted economic loss on the country was US$1.2 billion in 2010.

To identify why ABR is such a problem in Thailand, and what can be done about it, a new study will be conducted, titled “One Health Drivers of Antibacterial Resistance in Thailand,” will focus on two species of bacteria, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Escherichia coli. They are carried in the intestines of humans and animals and commonly contaminate the environment, causing a large proportion of bacterial infections world-wide, including serious infections with high mortality rates.

Increasingly, both species of bacteria are showing resistance to antibacterial drugs and they are recognized by the World Health Organization as being amongst the highest priority pathogens globally, for which new antibiotics are urgently needed.

The study site will cover an area measuring 80 kilometers by 80 kilometers in central and west Thailand. This area allows multiple sites including rivers, factories, animal farms, rice fields, fruit orchards, healthcare facilities and human communities to be considered in the study.

Researchers will also explore whether K. pneumoniae and E. coli transmit between animals and people directly or via the environment in Thailand. In addition, farm management practices, chemical pollution from agriculture and industry, and human behaviors around food preparation will be investigated to reveal any associations with the spread of antibiotic resistance.

By considering chemical, environmental, microbiological and socioeconomic factors that increase ABR, the study aims to build a holistic picture of ABR drivers in Thailand. It is intended that the findings can be used to aid the Thai people by suggesting changes that can be made to reduce, or at least slow down the rise of ABR.

The majority of sample and data collection will be performed by researchers from Chulabhorn Research Institute and Mahidol University in Thailand. Data analysis and intervention modelling will be led by UK researchers from the Universities of Bristol, Bath, Exeter and the Natural Environment Research Council Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Oxfordshire. The consortium will engage closely with Thailand’s National Strategic Plan on ABR, which aims to reduce ABR and improve human health in Thailand.

“This is a challenging, ambitious and exciting project. Consortium members from Thailand and the UK will come together and build on existing strengths in ABR research. We are provided with a wonderful opportunity to improve global health and we look forward to working together,” said principal investigator Dr. Matthew Avison from the University of Bristol.


Source: University of Bristol; Photo: Chulabhorn Research Institute.
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