Antimicrobials are medical drugs that kill microorganisms or inhibit their growth. Microorganisms are bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites, and their respective antimicrobials are called antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and antiparasitics. These medicines are a handy and powerful weapon against infections in humans, animals and plants. However, the microorganisms may develop an insensitivity against the medicines in time. This insensitivity is known as antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Why Does It Matter?
The consequences of AMR can be severe as well as making infections harder and more expensive to treat. The mechanism of action of antimicrobials is unique; only the correct antimicrobial could be effective against the specific microorganism. That is why accurate diagnosis of infectious pathogens is important; for the patient’s well-being, and for reducing loss of time, cost, and healthcare burden. With AMR, the microorganism “learns” how to overpower the unique mechanism of the drug, making it virtually useless. Prompt treatment with effective antimicrobials is the most effective way of reducing the risk of poor outcomes from serious infections. AMR is the biggest obstacle standing in front of it.
AMR is a great threat to public health, as well as to animal and environmental health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), AMR is responsible for approximately 1.27 million deaths and was associated with 4.95 million deaths in 2019, globally. Moreover, it is estimated that the financial cost of AMR to the world’s economy of US$ 100 trillion by 2050.
How Does AMR Develop?
The most well-known AMR type is that observed in bacteria: antibiotic resistance (ABR). Bacteria are capable of transferring genes interspecies, as well as harbouring a high mutation rate in their genome. Through gene transfer and mutations bacteria can acquire new genetic makeup, which might grant them resistance to certain chemicals, including antibiotics. While this situation is natural to bacteria’s life cycle, some elements can facilitate it
Inadequate infection prevention and control practices, and the ecological pressure of overused antibiotics are among those that facilitate ABR. Poor health management practices favour the further spread of these bacteria. As more bacteria grow, more mutations occur.
Ecological pressure is established through antibiotic overuse or use of extended periods. This eventually enables bacteria to be accustomed to the presence of antibiotics, leading to insensitivity and selection of resistant colonies.
Further drivers of resistance are the transmission of resistant microorganisms between humans, animals, and the environment. Therefore, the fight against AMR should be considered a wide scope.
What Can Be Done?
Individual actions against AMR include taking antimicrobial medicines only when prescribed and following the recommended dose and duration. As health authorities warn, people should not use these drugs without consulting a doctor. They should not cease the treatment before the recommended date or take too less or too much of the recommended dose. Health professionals should follow the local regulation of antimicrobial prescription.
On a wider scale, national health authorities worldwide plan and share their AMR actions. While those actions are fit for national needs, a global common ground is needed for this global issue.
That is why international health organisations, such as WHO, publish comprehensive action plans for all countries to conform.
The plan shared by The WHO tackles the AMR problem through 2 foundational steps:
1) effective governance, awareness and education,
2) strategic information through surveillance and research.
As well as four pillars:
1) prevention of infections,
2) access to essential health services,
3) timely, accurate diagnosis, and
4) appropriate, quality-assured treatment.
Anatolia Geneworks works in line with the WHO’s AMR intervention plans which are designed as people-centred. The first foundational step and the third pillar are one of many efforts Anatolia aims towards ending AMR trouble that is dubbed as “the silent pandemic”.
Through its website, press bulletins, social media, workshops and seminars, Anatolia tries to engage with the community and raise awareness about many health problems, including AMR. Anatolia employs high-technology scientific innovations to help health professionals in the diagnosis, intending to strengthen safe and high-quality care and accurate surveillance in line with AMR control strategies.
To put this goal into practice, Anatolia Geneworks developed Bosphore ABR Screening Kit. A Real-Time PCR-based diagnosis tool which can detect 10 different antibiotic resistance markers: carbapenem resistance genes OXA-48, KPC, NDM, VIM, and IMP; vancomycin resistance markers vanA and vanB; colistin resistance marker MCR-1; methicillin resistance marker mecA (+); and lastly ß-lactam resistance marker CTX-M. The company continues to research AMR and develop new ways to serve global health.