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Outside the Lab Microbiology and immunology, Point of care testing

Urgent Call for New Diagnostics

A report commissioned by the UK government, the Review on AMR (antimicrobial resistance), has called for fundamental change in order to curb the misuse of antibiotics, and the development of antibiotic resistance. So what’s their solution? To put it simply, better diagnostics. “To avoid the tragedy of 10 million people dying every year by 2050, the world needs rapid diagnostics to improve our use of antibiotics. They are essential to get patients the right treatment, cut down on the huge amount of unnecessary use, and make our drugs last for longer,” says AMR Chairman, Lord Jim O’Neill.

The Review’s authors have pointed the finger at healthcare companies as being part of the problem, saying that, “Many drug companies, meanwhile, including those producing affordable generic antibiotics, have no commercial interest in the advent of rapid diagnostics, which would act to limit the number of antibiotics prescribed.” This has stifled development and resulted in a dearth of diagnostic innovation, they conclude. The proposed solution is to ensure better incentives for test developers, in order to stimulate the market (1).

Figure 1. The different types of results a new bacterial diagnostic could provide.
Figure 2. Some of the diagnostic game-changers suggested by healthcare professionals to the AMR Review.

But what might these new diagnostics look like? The review contains both a breakdown on what information a test might contain (see Figure 1) and a preliminary diagnostic “wish list” suggested by a group of healthcare professionals (see Figure 2).

The next steps for the ARM Review team will be to take a look at issues other than human misuse of antibiotics that are contributing to the problem – such as agricultural consumption of antibiotics, antibiotic alternatives, and ways to limit and prevent the spread of infection, before intervention becomes necessary.

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  1. Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, “Rapid diagnostics: stopping unnecessary use of antibiotics”, (2015). Available at: bit.ly/1i0hYz0. Accessed November 9, 2015.
About the Author
Roisin McGuigan

I have an extensive academic background in the life sciences, having studied forensic biology and human medical genetics in my time at Strathclyde and Glasgow Universities. My research, data presentation and bioinformatics skills plus my ‘wet lab’ experience have been a superb grounding for my role as an Associate Editor at Texere Publishing. The job allows me to utilize my hard-learned academic skills and experience in my current position within an exciting and contemporary publishing company.

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