Monday, 23 March 2015

Antimicrobial Resistance - Movie and Debate

On the 9th of March 2015 I took a train from Nottingham to Birmingham right after work to attend the Antimicrobial Resistance Debate. The event consisted of a film with a duration of around 60 minutes followed by a BBC type  of debate. I was really eager to be part of it because deep inside I'd love to have my professional career established in antimicrobial resistance research. I went there for some insight on what's hot about this topic and for some networking. The movie shown was incredibly good, the attendees were actually the first to watch this movie in Europe. When you get to watch it you'll realise that these guys did a real good job. The film is an independent UJI production directed by Michael Graziano and funded by Kickstarter - check here if you want to watch the trailer. It is very informative, very in your face, very emotional and also very "here's the clear data, make of it whatever you want".

As the event was taking place I took some notes of the most important/interesting things I believe were shared by the intervenants:
  • More than 90% of animal meat in the USA is raised in CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (image below);
  • Microbial resistance to antibiotics is due to overuse in medicine, homes, agriculture and the fact that we have not adapted to the new times;


  • We have early squandered antibiotics by overusing it in medicine, like overproducing and overusing mould of cantaloupe that generated 200-times more volume than other sources. The generated antibiotic was used in the Vietnam war by the US Army when they preventively gave penicillin as means to prevent Gonorrhoea, thus generating an increment in antibiotic resistance.
  • We are in desperate need for rapid diagnostic tests capable of screening for microbial infection;
  • Antibiotic footprint is a good idea that could be applied to agriculture;
  • It's impossible not to love the Danish for their respect towards nature and themselves, simply because of their attitude regarding banning the use of antibiotics as growth promoters within the pork industry [2];
  • It won't take long until microbial resistance against Telavancin (semi-synthetic antibactericidal used in hospitals to fight MRSA) is acquired; [3]
  • On my question regarding the movie not mentioning antibiotic synergy between traditional and synthetic molecules, a topic that is increasingly trendy since 2011, I was told that synergy has more to do with good luck rather than good judgement - I didn't bite it!!!;
  • There is no evidence at all that giving a full-course of antibiotics helps beat resistance;
  • MERCK recently fired loads of people that were working on antibiotic research;
  • 500 million dollars to make a new drug is what puts companies off of making it;
  • Funding is the big issue in this problem. Companies have got to (de)prioritise some areas  and prioritise antimicrobial drug research;
  • Government needs to be made responsible and generate their own departments for looking into new antibiotics because industry is not interested;
That's it folks, it is entirely up to us and the governments now. The time for change is now, not tomorrow, not in a distant future. If you want to know more on this topic check the Antibiotic Action's webpage, they really do some great work. 

[1] CAFOs, On Earth Magazine, [], last visited on the 23rd of March 2015, last updated on the 7th of March 2014.

[2] The antibiotic ban in Denmark: A case study on politically driven bans, Animal Health Institute, [], last visited on the 23rd of March 2015, last update unknown.

[3] Damodaran, S. E.; Madhan, S. (2011). "Telavancin: A novel lipoglycopeptide antibiotic", Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy, 2(2), pp. 135-137.

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