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Current newsletter

10 December 2018

This week’s AMR Centre Newsletter was compiled by Laith Yakob, Head of Epidemiology & Modelling at the AMR Centre
 

 

Spotlight

The maths behind coexistence through connectivity. 
Mathematical models have evolved with our understanding of antimicrobial resistance, yielding important insight into the origin, spread and control of pathogens with reduced susceptibility to drug treatments. However, one critical shortcoming of models to date is that they are not particularly permissive to the long-term coexistence of drug-sensitive and drug-resistant pathogenic strains; eventually, based on a battle between selection pressures and fitness costs associated with resistance, one strain endures victorious. However, this measures up poorly to the reality of the situation: whether it’s MRSA in the USA or aminopenicillins in Europe, long-term coexistence of resistant and susceptible strains seems a widely applicable feature of AMR.

A new study from Harvard University sheds light on what may be the reason for this mismatch between models and data. Starting with a very basic mathematical description of the competition between susceptible and resistant pathogen strains for their resources (i.e., you and me), the authors iteratively increase model complexity, eventually resulting in a meta-population: a system of connected sub-populations. How is this different to previous models? Well, most previous models can be envisaged as being just one of these sub-populations, with inhabiting individuals randomly contacting each other.

This meta-population model is then interrogated through a series of analyses to show some true-to-life key features of AMR. Namely, that coexistence is a robust result (i.e. is not contingent on very particular “cherry-picked” parameter values); and, that large differences in resistance levels are possible even between connected regions with similar antibiotic consumption rates (e.g. carbapenems resistance in K. pneumoniae in Italy has dwarfed levels in neighbouring countries for years).

Population structure is by no means the only mechanism through which coexistence can come about. Other biologically plausible causes include superinfection and within-population heterogeneities in pathogen transmission and/or host recovery rates. The take home, then, is that this is not the new ‘best’ explanation for why we see both drug-susceptible and -resistant pathogenic strains persisting among populations for many years; just, one further explanation. Likely, there is not a single, correct answer to everything, always. These theories do not necessarily competitively exclude each other. There is room for coexistence.

 

 

Events at LSHTM

Mycoplasma genitalium – the ‘silent’ emerging super-bug – Dr Jason Ong
Co-sponsored by the STI Research Interest Group (STIRIG) & The AMR Centre
11 December, 13:00 – 14:00pm
Venue: LG8, Keppel Street

The AMR Centre lunchtime seminar series
AMR Centre seminars are usually on the first Tuesday of each month at 12.45pm. Please visit the events page of our website for more information.

Upcoming seminar:
January 8th 2019

Missed a seminar?
Recordings of some of our past seminars can be accessed through the links below:

 

 

External events

 

Funding

BBSRC and NERC, on behalf of the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), and the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, CONICET) in Argentina have announced a joint call for collaborative research proposals focussing on AMR in the environment. This follows from a memorandum of understanding between the DHSC in the UK and the Ministry of Health in Argentina to promote cooperation in antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which was signed earlier this year. The application deadline is 13 December 2018, 23:59 ART (GMT-3).

Funded by the UK Department for Health and Social Care’s Fleming Fund and managed by THET and CPA, CwPAMS will see up to 12 commonwealth partnerships receive funding to tackle the growing challenge of antimicrobial resistance in Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. A total of £600,000 is available to partnerships, with projects expected to run from February 2019 to April 2020. The application deadline is midnight on 4 January 2019 and submissions should be sent to ams@thet.org

The BMA Foundation for Medical Research is offering a ‘Kathleen Harper’ grant of £65,000 to assist research into antimicrobials and a ‘Lift into Research’ grant of up to £20,000 to support innovative ideas at their inception that may progress to an application for funding to support a research project. Applicants for both grants must be UK-registered medical practitioners or research scientists working in the UK. Online applications will open 1 January and close on 1 March 2019. For more information, please email researchgrants@bma.org.uk

The prize which is focused on AMR Surveillance offers a £15,000 winner’s prize (and two £5,000 runners-up prizes) to whoever can produce the most impressive new insight, tool or health application from data available on the AMR Register. The competition is now open until spring of next year, with applications closing on 28 February 2019. Please contact Francesca Chiara at f.chiara@wellcome.ac.uk if you have any questions or would like to discuss this further.

The prize which is focused on AMR Surveillance offers a £15,000 winner’s prize (and two £5,000 runners-up prizes) to whoever can produce the most impressive new insight, tool or health application from data available on the AMR Register. The competition is now open until spring of next year, with applications closing on 28 February 2019. Please contact Francesca Chiara at f.chiara@wellcome.ac.uk if you have any questions or would like to discuss this further.

How do laboratory professionals in public health facilities in low-middle income countries learn to tackle a global challenge? This PhD studenship, situated within the existing international development work the OU is undertaking (2017-2022), will seek to explore what it means to strengthen capacity within laboratories established by the Fleming Fund in AMR surveillance networks.

Regional SORT IT on antimicrobial resistance. Various workshops 2019 – 2021. Deadline for submission: 31 December 2018.

 

Vacancies

The International Livestock Research Instituteis recruiting a senior level scientist to lead the antimicrobial resistance research at the Institute. For more information, please click on this link.

 

 
 

Submitting a grant application?

We’d love to hear from you

If you have applied for, or won, a grant award related to AMR research, please do let us know. We’d love to hear from you so that we can celebrate the hard work of our members. You can email us on: AMR@lshtm.ac.uk