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January 21, 2021 Thursday 04:39:41 PM IST

£100 million donation from Ineos to create new institute to fight AMR

A new state of the art institute for antimicrobial research is to open at Oxford University thanks to a £100 million donation from Ineos. Ineos, one of the world’s largest manufacturing companies, and the University of Oxford are launching a new world-leading institute to combat the growing global issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which currently causes an estimated 1.5 million excess deaths each year- and could cause over 10m deaths per year by 2050. Predicted to also create a global economic toll of $100 trillion by mid-century, it is arguably the greatest economic and healthcare challenge facing the world post-Covid.

It is bacterial resistance, caused by overuse and misuse of antibiotics, which arguably poses the broadest threat to global populations. The world is fast running out of effective antibiotics as bacteria evolve to develop resistance to our taken-for-granted treatments. Without urgent collaborative action to prevent common microbes becoming multi-drug resistant (commonly known as ‘superbugs’), we could return to a world where taken-for-granted treatments such as chemotherapy and hip replacements could become too risky, childbirth becomes extremely dangerous, and even a basic scratch could kill.

The rapid progression of antibacterial resistance is a natural process, exacerbated by significant overuse and misuse of antibiotics not only in human populations but especially in agriculture. Meanwhile, the field of new drug discovery has attracted insufficient scientific interest and funding in recent decades meaning no new antibiotics have been successfully developed since the 1980s.

The new Ineos Oxford Institute will benefit from the internationally outstanding facilities and expertise of Oxford University, which played the key role in the origin of antibiotics following Fleming and Oxford’s discovery and development of penicillin in the last century. The IOI will create collaborative and cross-disciplinary links across the sciences, and will be based between two sites in Oxford, linking the University’s Department of Chemistry with the Department of Zoology in the new Life & Mind Building, which is currently under construction.

Prolonging the benefits of antibiotics the world has known since the 1940s requires both urgent new drug development, and better management of the existing drugs we have. It is natural that the microbes causing illness and infection gradually evolve to evade our treatments, but misuse of antibiotics - for instance overusing them and not finishing a full prescribed course - drastically accelerates this process.

The majority of global antibiotic consumption by volume is used for agriculture, and drug use in animals is contributing significantly to their lessening effectiveness in humans. The Ineos Oxford Institute for AMR Research (IOI) will therefore focus on designing novel antimicrobials just for animals, as well as exploring new human drugs.

Alongside its drug discovery work, the IOI intends to partner with other global leaders in the field of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) to raise awareness and promote responsible use of antimicrobial drugs. The academic team will contribute to research on the type and extent of drug-resistant microbes across the world, and critically, will seek to attract and train the brightest minds in science to tackle this ‘silent pandemic’.


(Content Courtesy: https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2021-01-19-100-million-donation-ineos-create-new-institute-fight-antimicrobial-resistance)


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