By Hannah Kerfoot

On the 8th of February 2024, 3 members of Pharmora attended the BioInfect Conference that was held in The Spine building in Liverpool, organised by BioNow. The day-long conference focused on the important problem for global health; Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR).

AMR is responsible for 1.27 million deaths globally, just bacterial AMR alone in 2019, which means it is higher than the number of deaths due to HIV/AIDS and malaria. Without action, the number of deaths due to AMR will rise each year as more resistance develops in the pathogenic microbes.

The lack of funding and development, not only in producing new antibiotics and dispensary techniques, but also in a lack of rapid and cheap diagnostic tool means that the problem of AMR continues to worsen. The point was made that if the diagnostic tool is expensive and time consuming, so what will a busy doctor choose to do: wait for the diagnosis, or quickly, cheaply and easily hand out a course of antibiotics?

Without any ‘pull incentives’ in this area of research – for example there being no economic draw yet – development is oftentimes slow and stagnant.

At the conference, however, the point was made to try and focus on some of the positives that were developing around the issue. Some of these include the reduction in antimicrobial use in agriculture, the UK’s new Antimicrobial Products Subscription model (which could kick-start new funding opportunities in the research area), and new cooperative ideas being developed. One idea mentioned was to actually put AMR on death certificates as cause of death, as has previously been done with Covid-19, since so far it has only been the actual microbial infection itself which has been reported. This would not only help to improve data collection, but it would raise awareness of the problem, which so far has mostly been going under-the-radar in the public eye.

The networking portion of this event was very interesting also, as it was big community of scientists and logistical operators ready to work together and cooperate to try and tackle a rising issue. With talks from the Mayor of Liverpool, Janet Hemingway (co-founder of iiCON – Infection Innovation Consortium) and the author the ‘O’Neill Report’, Jim O’Neill, this conference was an interesting and educational look into the world of AMR investigation and the group of scientists working around the clock to try and save lives.

Watch this space for more Blogs on the topic of AMR following this fascinating conference.