Six new research partnerships looking at ways of tackling the rise of anti-microbial resistance (AMR) have been created with £4.5M investment by the UK Research Councils: BBSRC, ESRC and MRC through the Newton Fund, an initiative intended to strengthen research and innovation partnerships between the UK and partner countries.
The partnerships will see researchers from multiple disciplines at six UK centres of excellence work in collaboration with Chinese counterparts, thanks to match funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) to foster collaboration across borders and between diverse disciplines to help stop the growing global burden posed by AMR.
The discovery and introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s gave us the ability to prevent women dying from post-childbirth infection, to treat tuberculosis and for farmers to protect crops and harvest from infection. However, as microorganisms become resistant to antimicrobial treatments, including antibiotics, there is a very real possibility that the drugs we have come to rely upon may become obsolete. Cross border collaboration is a vital step to progress in this global risk.
Speaking on behalf of the collaborating UK Research Councils, Mark Palmer, Head of International at MRC, said: “The growing resistance of micro-organisms to antimicrobial therapies such as antibiotics is a public health issue of global importance and it requires an urgent global response. The outcomes of these awards will benefit both the UK and China through the sharing of knowledge, and hopefully lead to significant impacts on health and policy.”
Professor Lu Rongkai, Deputy Director General, Bureau of International Cooperation, NSFC, said: “Antimicrobial resistance is now widely recognised as one of the most serious global threat to human health in the 21st centuries. The global spread of some infectious diseases has led to an increase in antibiotics usage, with the inevitable risk of emerging resistance. These jointly awarded grants are expected to combat this problem in both China and UK, and even to promote global progress in human public health science.”
The UK Research Councils support research, capability and training to pursue a range of strategies to tackle this global problem. Years of research mean that we are now in a better position than ever to understand microbes such as bacteria, viruses and fungi, how they interact with their hosts, and to identify possible routes for alternative diagnostics and treatments.
The UK-Chinese partnerships, as part of the UK-China AMR Partnership Initiative, will bring together leading researchers from both countries, and from multiple scientific disciplines, in order to better understand the emergence and spread of bacteria, develop new interventions, and improve health and agricultural systems.
The following projects have now been awarded:
1. An integrated approach to understand the emergence and spread of extensively resistant Gram-negative bacteria in China
UK Principal Investigator – Francois Balloux, University College London
Chinese Principal Investigator – Hui Wang, Peking University
2. Accelerate CHNUK AMR discovery: Establishing joint China/UK training and research platforms enabling highthroughput fragment based inhibitor discovery
UK Principal Investigator – Chris Dowson, The University of Warwick
Chinese Principal Investigator – Caiguang Yang, Chinese Academy of Sciences
3. Investigation of LA-MRSA in China and the UK
UK Principal Investigator – Mark Holmes, University of Cambridge
Chinese Principal Investigator – Rui Zhou, Huazhong Agricultural University
4. Pathways to optimising antibiotic use in Anhui: Identifying key determinants in community and clinical settings
UK Principal Investigator – Helen Lambert, University of Bristol
Chinese Principal Investigator – Debin Wang, Anhui Medical University
5. Extending bicyclomycin treatment of multi-drug resistant Gram-negative pathogens
UK Principal Investigator – Andrew Truman, John Innes Centre
Chinese Principal Investigator – Xianming Deng, Xiamen University
6. Determining the clinical and environmental impact, burden and cost of extensively drug resistant Enterobacteriaceae in China (DETER-XDRE-CHINA)
UK Principal Investigator – Timothy Walsh, Cardiff University
Chinese Principal Investigator – Jianzhong Shen, China Agricultural University