Rising rates of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) constitute a substantial global threat. AMR Precision Infectious Diseases (ID) brings together investigators using new genomics tools for rapid, precision tracking, prevention and control of outbreaks, to understand mechanisms of development and dissemination of AMR, develop new approached to anti-infective therapies and to bring the benefits of precision medicine to patients with life-threatening infectious diseases.
Vitali Sintchenko leads a program of research characterising the evolution and emergence of hospital- and community-acquired AMR bacteria and fungi, including imported drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB). This understanding is essential to implementation of effective public health measures and outbreak mitigation. These insights have been further advanced by a cross-disciplinary collaboration with Mikhail Prokopenko (Complex Systems Research, School of Civil Engineering) and Tania Sorrell, which revealed the importance of bacterial networks for emergence of new strains and epidemics. Further collaborations with leading TB scientists such as Jamie Triccas are also finding next generation antibiotics to treat evolving AMR infections.
Alternative treatment modalities are an essential component of future efforts to combat AMR infections. Jon Iredell and early career researcher Aleksandra Petrovic Fabijan have been leading research into phage therapy as a treatment option for AMR bacterial infections. Their results show bacteriophage preparations improve clinical outcomes in critically ill patients when delivered in conjunction with, or following, antibiotic treatment. Larger clinical trials are now underway to prove efficacy and enhance the utility of adjuvant bacteriophage therapy for minimising critical AMR infections. If successful, this therapy will provide enormous national benefits for controlling AMR threats in hospital settings and to the wider Australian community.
Professors Jon Iredell, Vitali Sintchenko and Tania Sorrell lead the AMR Precision ID Node. The team are world leaders in translation of cutting-edge laboratory and genomics research into practice, changing the way bacterial and fungal pathogens are diagnosed, treated and prevented. They also lead research into the evolution, emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections and new pathogens.