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Diagnosis device 'could halve antibiotic use'

BBC Spotlight

A Plymouth scientist is developing a test to help doctors decide whether a patient really needs antibiotics.

Microbiologist Dr Tina Joshi is working on a device to speed up the diagnosis time for bugs and recommend treatments.

She says it could halve the number of antibiotics being prescribed.

Antibiotic tablet
Getty Images

When antibiotics were introduced in the 1940s, they were hailed as a "wonder drug".

But there are major concerns that over-prescription has led to increasing resistance to treatments.

Dr Joshi says in the last 70 years there have been no changes in diagnosis techniques...

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Looking for life saving bacteria in caves

Meet the scientist searching for answers to the antibiotics crisis in caves
Ann Cheeptham is a cave-exploring micro-biologist on a mission to find a solution to one of the biggest threats facing the global population today, our growing resistance to antibiotics. She, and a team of local cavers or 'citizen scientists' as she calls them, are hunting for bacteria that could form the basis of new, more effective antibiotics, a search that's taken them deep underground.

Image: Micro-biologist Ann Cheeptham crawling through tunnel in cave
Credit: Klaus Thyman  
Footage shot by Francois-Xavier De Ruydts

University of Plymouth firm developing new antibiotics

Del Crookes

BBC News Online

A company launched by the University of Plymouth is developing new drugs which are not resistant to antibiotics.

Amprologix's first product is expected to be a cream containing epidermicin, which can kill harmful bacteria including MRSA, Streptococcus and Enterococcus.

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A UK government review three years ago estimated that by 2050, drug resistant infections will cause 10 million deaths a year.

It is estimated that there are 5,000 deaths each year at the moment because antibiotics no longer work for some infections.

No new classes of antibiotics have been introduced into clinical use for the past 30 years.

The World Health Organisation warned in February this year that 'antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today', so to have this company established is the next step to helping tackle the problem."

Professor Mathew UptonChief scientific officer of Amprologix

Antibiotic resistance could mean 'the end of modern medicine'

Grim warnings about a rise in untreatable infections
England's chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies has given a warning that increasing resistance to antibiotics could lead to "a lot of suffering" and "the end of modern medicine". 

To increase public awareness of the problem, she recommended including on death certificates that an individual died of an infection that couldn't be treated with antibiotics.  

Kristiina Cooper reports.

You can hear more from Today in Parliament at 11.30pm on BBC Radio 4.

Princess Royal to open new Derriford research laboratory

Jenny Walrond

Health Correspondent, BBC Spotlight

Researcher at Derriford Research Facility
The new Derriford Research Facility has been funded by the University of Plymouth

Princess Anne officially opens a new South West medical research facility later which could have an important role to play in the global fight against antibiotic resistance.

Diseases that are already resistant to antibiotics kill 700,000 people a year but that could rise to 10 million by 2050 if new antibiotics are not discovered, scientists say.

Professor Oliver Hanemann

The building is home to a new Institute of Translational and Stratified Medicine, where researchers will work closer to real patients on medicine that is more personalised.

Institute director Professor Oliver Hanemann said it was very significant.

It's 2,500 extra square metres of lab space. It's a platform that everyone can use - scientists from the hospital, scientists from the medical school, scientists in the university."

Prof Oliver Hanemann