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Effects of antibiotic resistance on bacterial fitness, virulence and transmission
EC contribution
: € 2.755.000
Duration
: 36 months
Starting date
: 01/12/2005
Funding scheme
: Specific Targeted Research Project
Keywords
: antibiotic resistance, fitness, genetic compensation, transmission, virulence
Contract/Grant agreement number
: LSHM-CT-2005-518152
Project web-site
: -

Background:

A major factor that affects the emergence and survival of resistant strains is the biological cost of resistance. Thus, to reduce the rate of spread of resistant bacteria we need to identify antibiotic targets and antibiotics for which the resistance mechanisms have the most negative effects on bacterial fitness. Thus, the overall aims of this proposal are to experimentally examine and define in several medically important species how fitness, virulence and transmission are affected by different types of antibiotic resistance. Such knowledge is a prerequisite for: (i) predicting the rate and stability of resistance development, (ii) developing novel diagnostic test systems for resistant bacterial clones with a high risk of resistance development, (iii) forecasting the value of intervention strategies and (iv) rational design of antibiotics and choice of antibiotic targets where the potential for resistance development is minimized.


Problem:

Ever since antibiotics were first introduced 60 years ago they have been a remarkable success story giving us the opportunity to treat and cure most infectious diseases. However, the intensive use and inappropriate use of antibiotics has also resulted in the many important human pathogens developing resistance. There is a concern that in time that the loss of therapeutic options will present us with a post-antibiotic era where present and future medical advances are threatened. The combination of a worldwide rapid increase in resistant bacteria and the downward trend in the development of new antibiotics has serious implications. Resistant bacteria dramatically reduce the possibilities of treating infections effectively and increase the risk of complications and fatal outcome for patients with severe infections. Those most vulnerable patients are children, the elderly and the economically disadvantaged. Individuals with compromised immune defences, such as cancer patients and those living with HIV require antibiotic therapy to prevent and treat severe infections and these drugs are necessary for their survival. In addition, antibiotic resistance jeopardises advanced medical procedures such as organ transplantation and implants of prostheses, where infective complications are common and antibiotic therapy is necessary to prevent or treat complications. Thus, antibiotic resistance represents a major public health concern and economic problem.

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