Tackling antimicrobial resistance

Antibiotics have changed the world and saved millions of lives, but there’s a problem. These vital medicines aren’t working as well as they used to. Antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity today, but we’re not powerless. UK research organisations, policymakers, clinicians and individuals can all help to beat back the bugs.

Antibiotics are medicines used to prevent and treat bacterial infections. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in response to the use of these medicines. Bacteria, not humans, become antibiotic resistant. These bacteria may then infect humans and are harder to treat than non-resistant bacteria.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a broader term, encompassing resistance to drugs to treat infections caused by other microbes as well, such as parasites (e.g. malaria), viruses (e.g. HIV) and fungi (e.g. Candida).

AMR is the ability of a microorganism (like bacteria, viruses, and some parasites) to stop an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials) from working against it. As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist and may spread to others.

Swift Science Video: How to Resist Resistance