Scottish university joins fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria

The University of the West of Scotland is partnering with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay in a project to understand how bacteria resist the effects of formerly successful antibiotics

The University of the West of Scotland (UWS) is participating in a major international project to determine the impact of antibiotic waste and its role in inflaming antimicrobial resistance.

The £800,000 programme, part of a wider £8 million research collaboration between the UK and India, will see UWS tackle the issue in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay.

Funding comes from the Natural Environment Research Council and the Indian government’s Department of Biotechnology.

“Antimicrobial resistance is a global public health challenge, with antibacterial resistance viewed as posing one of the most serious health threats,” said Professor Fiona Henriquez, infection and microbiology research group leader at UWS’ School of Health and Life Sciences.

Sewage, agriculture and effluent from the pharmaceutical industry are the chief sources of antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the environment.

Thus, a project bringing together IITB-based experts – on sensor technologies, water treatment and remediation – with UWS’ specialists in environmental microbiology, meta-omics, geochemistry and waste management.

This pioneering study can have a significant impact on global public health – Professor Craig Mahoney, UWS

Professor John Connolly, a UWS-based expert in policy and industrial regulatory processes, will also be onboard in a bid to help shape and refine policy and improve regulatory control in pharmaceutical waste management.

Key among the research’s objectives will be assessing the impact of increasing levels of antibiotic pollution entering waterways, and how that helps bacteria to resist the effects of formerly successful medication.

The project will also seek to design effective measures for monitoring antibiotic levels and removing them from waste. Three post-doctoral research assistants will be funded by the programme, with two UWS-sponsored PhD students also set to join the research team.

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“UWS is delighted to announce its involvement in this new, pioneering study that will explore an extremely important worldwide issue and which can have a significant impact on global public health,” said Professor Craig Mahoney, principal and vice-chancellor of UWS.

“We look forward to working with leaders in this field from both the UK and India, to not only make a real, positive impact on our natural environment, but on public health around the world.”

In related news, researchers at the National University of Ireland, Galway, are looking for 300 volunteers to participate in a study to explore whether recreational waters contain dangerous antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

The research is being conducted after potentially deadly bugs were found in the waters around the city.


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