- Title: New research investigates how to stop drug resistant organisms
- Date: 7th November 2016
- Summary: CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FILE - MAY 19, 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF LAB WORKER CHECKING SAMPLES
- Embargoed: 22nd November 2016 15:32
- Keywords: biofilm bioquell Andover superbug antibiotics
- Location: ANDOVER AND CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND, UK
- Reuters ID: LVA00457G5F8B
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A UK funding body is sponsoring research into the role of biofilms in the creation and transmission of so-called hospital superbugs, or multidrug-resistant organisms.
The study will also investigate the effectiveness of current cleaning methods when applied to biofilms, the term for communities of micro-organisms rather than individual organisms.
"These biofilms are creating these 'walled cities' on surfaces of hospitals which we've seen in a few studies recently that are actually more resistant to cleaning agents, hospital cleaning agents and sort of anti-microbial agents than their planktonic counterparts, planktonic being like plankton in the sea," Watson said.
Watson, whose research will be funded by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, originally founded by Prince Albert, said we need to understand how biofilms are helping bacteria pass on resistance.
"It's incredibly complex so not only are they protecting themselves from this web structure that they are creating around themselves but they can share information so anti-biotic resistance can be shared inside a biofilm because these bacteria are bunched together and so they are in close quarters and they can share genetic information and so resistances can be passed between species in these biofilm. So these communities are getting stronger the more diverse they can be, potentially," Watson said.
Watson will divide his time between research at Southampton University and his role as a microbiology technologist with Bioquell UK, which has developed a technique using hydrogen peroxide vapour to clean hospital rooms and surfaces.
The system is just one of many commercially available hospital cleaning processes, all of which are tested for efficiency against single bacteria rather than biofilms, and more information is needed, according to Watson, if we are to reduce amount of anti-biotics we are prescribing.
"Bacteria are creating these resistances because they are being overwhelmed with these anti-biotics and the ones that have this resistance mechanism then thrive. Biofilms could be where they are exchanging this resistance and therefore than sharing it within a community which then spreads," Watson said.
The U.N. World Health Organisation says increasing antibacterial resistance is the most serious threat to global public health and warns we are overusing and misusing antibiotics, both treating people and using them in agriculture.
Earlier this year the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the country's first case of a patient with an infection resistant to all known antibiotics, including colistin, an antibiotic that is reserved for use against "nightmare bacteria."
Britain's National Health Service estimates a widespread outbreak of antibiotic-resistant infection could infect as many as 200,000 and kill as many as 80,000 people.
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