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Antimicrobial drug resistance

Antimicrobial resistance is a major obstacle to the treatment of infectious diseases worldwide. It has been observed following the introduction of every antimicrobial agent into clinical practice. For example, resistance of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus to penicillin was encountered in hospitals as early as the mid-1940s, only a few years after the introduction of penicillin. The global human burden posed by drug-resistant infections is difficult to quantify, but we have reason to fear that it may be enormous. In the European Union alone, the additional burden posed by resistance every year, focusing only on a limited group of health care-associated bacterial infections is in the range of 2.5 million hospital days, 25 000 deaths and economic losses on the order of €1.5 billion due to extra health care costs and productivity losses. A multifaceted approach is needed to contain and combat antimicrobial resistance, and the European Union's 6th and 7th Framework Programme fund a wide range of projects focusing on basic research, strategies for the prudent use of existing antimicrobials, development of new antimicrobials, development of point of care diagnostic tests, and vaccine development.

Basic research

Basic research is the fundamental core of all research areas funded. It allows an understanding to be gained of how pathogens interact with their host and how they cause infection. It is also the basis for developing new antimicrobials and understanding how antimicrobial resistance develops. The EU supports research projects in a wide range of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, protozoa and fungi.


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