Antimicrobial resistance: One health approach
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global threat to human health and is recognized as a silent pandemic. A recent report in 2019 revealed that deaths associated with bacterial AMR number 4.95 million per year worldwide, including 1.27 million directly attributable to AMR. Since penicillin was discovered, many types of antibiotics have been used to successfully treat infectious diseases. However, these achievements are now at risk mainly because of the overuse or misuse of antimicrobials, leading to the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria. AMR bacteria are not only confined to health care settings. They have spread to the environment and have been isolated from human-associated animals, including companion pets, livestock, and farmed fish. Given the increased risks to human health that this spread presents, a multidisciplinary “One-Health approach” is required to solve the problem. In accordance with the mission of the CRI to improve the quality of life through the use of Science and Technology, AMR is one of the primary research focuses of the Laboratory of Biotechnology. To better understand the extent and causes of AMR, the levels of AMR bacteria and their potential drivers are monitored in the environment and food supply. A CRI research team along with collaborators in the United Kingdom (UK) led by the University of Bristol has received a Global Challenge Research Fund grant from the Medical Research Council (MRC), UK to investigate AMR drivers in Thailand based on the One-Health concept. Knowledge gained from this research project will clarify the extent of AMR and its drivers in the environment and increase awareness of AMR among both the general public and policy makers.
The laboratory has also extended its studies on AMR to the aquaculture sector, which has up till now been largely neglected. The findings from this research project have revealed that one of the potential drivers of AMR is residual antibiotics in waste water. One obvious solution to this problem is to remove residual antibiotics during sewage treatment. Researchers in the Laboratory of Biotechnology are working closely with an expert on nanocomposites from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, to collaboratively develop a nanocomposite that can remove residual antibiotics as well as pesticides from waste water. The Laboratory of Biotechnology team is collaborating with the Thai Food and Drug administration (FDA to apply this antibiotic removal technology to waste water treatment systems in pharmaceutical plants, hospitals, and other community settings to reduce the release of antibiotics to the environment with the overall goal of improving the health of humans, animals, and the environment.