We contribute to understanding the causes and risk factors for antimicrobial resistance, and to developing new drugs and vaccines.
Resistance to antimicrobial drugs poses a serious risk to the progress made in global health in the past decades.
Antibiotic resistance is an important global public health challenge and threatens our ability to treat infectious diseases. Resistance to first-line drugs also increases health care costs, since infections last longer (more days at the hospital) and become more expensive to treat.
Antimicrobial resistance is a natural process by which microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi and other pathogens) develop resistance to the drugs used to fight them. The abuse and misuse of antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs favours the development and spread of resistant microorganisms, and generates the need for alternative treatments that are effective against such pathogens. However, the number of new approved drugs is declining, with only three new antibiotics receiving approval in the last 30 years.
The growing number of drug-resistant bacteria poses an increasing threat to the effectiveness of existing antibiotics. Indeed, only 3 new antibiotics have received approval in the last 30 years
Antimicrobial resistance also concerns other, non-bacterial diseases. Resistance of the malaria parasite to the antimalarial drugs chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrethamine is widespread in most countries where malaria is endemic; in addition, the emergence of artemisinin-resistant P. falciparum parasites has been reported in South-East Asia. Resistance is also an increasing concern in the treatment of HIV infection due to the rapid increase in the availability of antiretroviral therapy in recent years.