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Our researchers in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance is one of the most important public health issues in the world today.*

When bacteria change themselves—through spontaneous mutation or gene transfer—and stop antibiotics from working against them, widescale problems can arise.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can cause serious disease, longer infections, and an increased chance of complications and the person passing on the infection.

It is a problem that needs to be tackled on many fronts—including minimising unnecessary prescription of antibiotics, educating patients on the importance of completing the full course of prescribed antibiotics, and practising good hand hygiene.

But what if we could help fight the rise of antibiotic resistance by tailoring antibiotics to the needs of an individual patient?

Dr Sanmarie Schlebusch, the Director of Microbiology at Mater Pathology, is undertaking research that—if successful—could achieve this goal.

In a clinical trial, she is sequencing the genetics of the microbes in the gut to better understand the natural diversity of species within the gut microbiome and how this is affected by antibiotics.

Two groups of hospital patients are being given two separate antibiotics, and a third hospitalised group are not on antibiotics. They will all have their gut microbiome sequenced before, and during, their treatment. This will show the impact of antibiotics on the gut microbiome.

If successful, this Mater research will lead to a better understanding of the selection of antibiotics, tailored to an individual patient, as well as impact on infection control practices.

Knowing which antibiotics are the best choice for patients, based on their particular circumstances, will help reduce the side effects they experience and help their body fight against antibiotic resistance.

Dr Schlebusch is a Betty McGrath fellow—a scheme funded by Mater Foundation to increase research activity and improve evidence-based clinical practice at Mater. This means her promising research would not be possible without the generous support from people like you.

*Source: betterhealth.vic.gov.au  

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