Antibiotic resistance week 2017 “Think twice. Seek advice” – UK

The BARNARDS team in the UK and our associated colleagues contributed to raising AMR awareness by participating in a resistance bake off challenge! The challenge was set to create a cake that had an antibiotic resistance theme… although initially we received some rather perplexed looks, the creativity in the results did not disappoint! The fun and bizarre challenge created a talking point around AMR within the teams and at home with friends and family.


Our laboratory manager for Medical Microbiology Janice Weeks created this delicious cake which shows the letters representing base pairs, the constructs of DNA, which can carry the genes that encode for antibiotic resistance mechanisms in bacteria.

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Cake by BARNARDS Technical Specialist Kathryn Thomson:
Antibiotic resistant infections are historically associated with hospitals due to the selective pressure on bacteria within a clean sterile environment, with antibiotic exposure, an abundance of vulnerable patients and easy transfer between people for resistant bacteria to spread.
However, animals are featured ingesting these antibiotics. Agricultural use of antibiotics is a breeding ground for resistant bacteria. In regions where this is not regulated, antibiotics are given routinely as a growth promotor or as a “prophylactic treatment” for infection prevention, there by boosting the economics of the industry. In addition to routine antibiotic use having a negative impact on animal physiological health and welfare it’s continued use is allowing resistance to develop in bacteria surviving the treatment, proliferating and spreading to the wider communities through contact. Animal agriculture is not all that is affected, antibiotics are getting into soils and water systems wreaking havoc on delicate ecosystems and generating antibiotic resistance in new environments.

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Dr Brad Spiller sent in photos of microbiology themed cupcakes featuring a bacterial streak plate used to isolate individual species of bacteria and then determine antibiotic resistance.
Dr Brad Spiller is part of our wider group in Medical Microbiology looking at antibiotic resistance, leading the UK site for the international reference laboratory in Ureaplasma and Mycoplasma pathogenicity and antimicrobial resistance testing. Brad also has a long standing productive collaboration with Public Health England, developing new clinical diagnostic and microbial typing schemes with focused expertise in determining underlying mechanisms of bacterial antimicrobial resistance, primarily in Mycoplasmas and Ureaplasmas, but expanding into Streptococcus agalactiae and Legionella pneumophilia. The MYCO WELL-D-ONE study has just started enrolling this month and will see Brad and KESS2 funded MPhil student Dan Morris focusing research on sexually transmitted diseases and testing methods.

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BARNARDS senior technician and administrator Calie Dyer baked a cross section of an Escherichia coli exhibiting known resistance mechanisms. In the top left you can see the effect of antibiotic target modification – antibiotics target specific sites within the bacterial cell that prevent the bacteria from being functional, when the bacteria modify these sites by changing their shape the antibiotic can no longer bind to the site and the antibiotic is rendered ineffective. Bottom left antibiotics are bound within a capsule, bacterial production of enzymes destroy the antibiotic before it is able to function. Bottom middle shows an efflux pump where antibiotics entering the cell are pumped back out through a channel. Bottom right antibiotics are unable to gain entry to the bacterial cell due to a modification to the outer most membrane. Top right show’s a plasmid (a circular piece of DNA) carrying the genes that encode for the resistance mechanisms and can be transferred between cells and bacterial species by horizontal gene transfer…. Unfortunately, there was not enough room on the cake board to show this! multi-drug resistance is occurring with alarming frequency as bacteria can harbour multiple resistance strategies at any one time.

We look forward to seeing what our partners come up with for next years AMR week!

In addition, we would like to congratulate the Kano team for their World Sepsis Day efforts making it onto the 2017 Global Sepsis Alliance annual poster. This can be viewed and downloaded Here!

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