Antibiotic resistance ‘could be far worse than ebola’

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ANTIBIOTIC resistance “could be much worse than ebola” according to a new Yorkshire-based charity, which has set up to tackle the “impending catastrophe” it presents.

Antibiotic Research UK, made up of experts from the Russell Group of universities including York and biotech companies, are seeking to raise £30m for at least one new antibiotic therapy by 2020.

David Cameron warned earlier this year that the world could be cast back into the “dark ages” of medicine “where antibiotics no longer work and treatable infections and injuries will kill once again.”

Founder Prof Colin Garner, honorary professor at the Hull York Medical School, said if no action was taken “we will end globally in a situation which is much worse than ebola.”

Worldwide it is estimated that there are already 400,000 cases of antibiotic resistant infections; with 5,000 deaths a year in the UK. Already in countries like India some 10 to 20 per cent of patients cannot be treated effectively with antibiotics.

Prof Garner, who spent the majority of his career researching the causes of cancer, said: “There’s been no new antibiotics for the last 20 years and bacteria are becoming resistant to existing antibiotics.

“If we don’t tackle the problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria now, modern medicine such as treatments for certain cancers, organ transplantation and even hip replacements will become impossible because of the dangers of infection.”

With no appetite from the major pharmaceutical companies to tackle the problem, Antibiotic Research UK is aiming to garner public support to finance new scientific programmes.

One possibility is giving a patient a combination of drugs, as often happens in cancer therapies, rather than one by one.

Unusually the charity will be asking the public to vote for the project they wish to donate to.

They hope the £30m can be raised through crowd-funding and use of social media as well as “traditional” sources of funding, corporate sponsorship, trusts and foundations.

Donations can be made via the charity’s website, www.antibioticresearch.org.uk