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Learned Society Partnership on Antimicrobial Resistance

Learned Society Partnership on Antimicrobial Resistance

A partnership of learned societies representing 75,000 scientists has come together to lead the fight against antimicrobial resistance.

Stemming the rise of antimicrobial resistance is one of humanity’s great challenges. UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said that antimicrobial resistance threatens to cast medicine "back into the dark ages" and the UK Department of Health has recently published a five-year antimicrobial resistance strategy. In response to this, seven UK learned societies have formed the Learned Society Partnership on Antimicrobial Resistance (LeSPAR) to support actions that can mitigate this global challenge.

LeSPAR aims to provide a single, unified voice and mobilise the UK’s collective research community in order to enhance understanding and knowledge sharing between academia, industry, and clinicians. The group is focused on taking action, championing best practice and raising awareness of the global challenge of antimicrobial resistance.

LeSPAR will achieve these aims by:

  • Supporting researchers in creating, sharing and applying knowledge.
  • Organising focused events to enable networking and knowledge exchange, and to promote effective collaborations across disciplines and sectors.
  • Engaging with government and other funders to achieve policy and funding support for the antimicrobial research community and connecting expertise from our membership to policy makers.
  • Assembling information on relevant resources and meetings.

LeSPAR welcomes news of global political and pharmaceutical industry support for actions to tackle the threat of resistant infections. The G7 and G20 summits and the UN General Assembly have now agreed proactive steps to ensure collaboration between nations, accepting the recommendations of the WHO Global Action Plan on AMR and the UK AMR Review. In particular they have agreed:

  • Support for all countries to design and implement national action plans
  • Initiatives to stimulate research and development of new antimicrobial products
  • Public awareness and engagement activities

In line with these agreements, the pharmaceutical industry has published a roadmap with an emphasis on public–private partnership. This guides both the development of new drugs and the management of access to antimicrobials, where and when they are needed.

LeSPAR will continue to work with our collective community of experts to ensure actions are taken in support of these resolutions.

Membership

LeSPAR comprises:

Biochemical Society
British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
British Pharmacological Society
Royal Society of Chemistry
Society for Applied Microbiology
Microbiology Society  
Royal Society of Biology

Collectively, these Societies represent around 75,000 scientists.

Antimicrobial resistance: environments, evolution and transmission networking workshops

In summer 2015, LeSPAR held three interdisciplinary networking workshops for AMR researchers in Dundee, Nottingham and London. The workshops included invited talks by researchers and funders, and structured networking and discussion sessions.

An executive summary of the workshops is given below and you can download the full workshop summary report below.

Download LeSPAR report

You can also watch recordings of the talks via the LeSPAR Youtube channel.

LeSPAR Workshops Executive Summary

LeSPAR held three networking workshops, which were attended by 150 scientists from a range of backgrounds, career stages, and sectors.

Structured networking and discussion yielded the following broad challenges for those in our collective community looking to tackle AMR in the environment:

  • Better understanding of the role of regulatory agencies.
  • Alternatives to antibiotics.
  • Links between basic and clinical research.
  • Mechanisms and incentives to promote engagement between academia and industry.
  • Facilitating best practice, such as data sharing and standardisation of methodology.

Specific scientific challenges include:

  • Fundamental research about reservoirs of resistance and selection factors in the environment.
  • Media, laboratory strains and standardised models should be able to create laboratory conditions that are an appropriate proxy for real life scenarios.
  • Development of rapid diagnostics to enable precise prescribing of narrow-spectrum antibiotics as part of the agenda for good stewardship.
  • New drugs and treatments – combination therapies, repurposing old drugs, developing natural products, and novel therapies including anti-virulence therapies; antimicrobial peptides; anti-resistance therapies; vaccines; immune modulation; probiotics; and restoring of microbiome/microbiome transplant approaches.
  • Defining resistance i.e. we need to know whether we mean genetic or phenotypic characteristics; and is resistance of a strain characterised by the survival of a single cell or a whole population.

To achieve against these challenges there needs to be: support for collaboration and knowledge exchange*; special opportunities for funding, including sandpit events, as well as guidance on competing for responsive mode funding; skills development in early career, including in entrepreneurship and working in partnership with industry; more events, such as these workshops, that link the diverse research community; long-term plans for curation and sharing of AMR data; and public engagement.

*84% of attendees who responded to our post-meeting survey said that they made new professional connections at their event; 65% connected with a potential research collaborator; 72% found ideas and information to develop their own research.

LeSPAR response to WHO action plan

 

For further information please email policy@microbiologysociety.org

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