Access keys

Skip to content Accessibility Home News, events and publications Site map Search Privacy policy Help Contact us Terms of use

Antimicrobial resistance: case study series

Copyright: M J Richardson

Antibiotics have saved the lives of millions of people and animals. Their discovery is seen as one of the most important scientific achievements of the 20th century. But overuse and misuse of antibiotics has contributed to the emergence of resistance. Sir Alexander Fleming himself, on collecting a Nobel Prize for his discovery, predicted the dawn of this battle, saying, "It is not difficult to make microbes resistant to penicillin in the laboratory by exposing them to concentrations not sufficient to kill them…"

Data breakout

USD$2.7Bn Estimated market for therapeutics against antibiotic-resistant 'superbug' MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) in 2012, growing to USD$3.4Bn in 2019
826 Number of UK hospital cases of MSRA reported by the NHS in 2013-14
£200M Cost of mastitis infections to the UK dairy industry; the leading cause is Staphylococcus aureus

England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies warned in 2013 of the "catastrophic effect" of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and urged immediate action from global leaders before deaths from routine surgery once again become a common occurrence.

The UK Research Councils support research, capability and training to pursue a range of strategies to tackle this global problem. Years of research from BBSRC, its predecessors and the other UK Research Councils mean that we are now in a better position than ever to understand microbes such as bacteria, viruses and fungi, how they interact with their hosts, and to identify possible routes for alternative diagnostics and treatments.

This suite of case studies and in-depth timeline showcase some of these advances. This work lays the groundwork for the cross-Council antimicrobial resistance initiative launched in July 2014, comprising eight Research Councils and the Wellcome Trust.

A joined-up, multi-disciplinary approach is essential and so the initiative will coordinate the work of medical researchers, biologists, engineers, vets, economists, social scientists, mathematicians and designers. It is only through tackling the problem at every level and in every environment that we will be able to take the next steps towards a solution.

Read the full impact evidence reports:

Antimicrobial resistance (PDF 1.24MB)

You may need to download additional plug-ins to open this file.

Antibiotic-evading bacteria (PDF 316KB)

You may need to download additional plug-ins to open this file.

New antibiotics from bacterial bioscience (PDF 493KB)

You may need to download additional plug-ins to open this file.

Wound dressing provides glowing evidence of infection (PDF 442KB)

You may need to download additional plug-ins to open this file.

Bacteria-eating viruses (PDF 378KB)

You may need to download additional plug-ins to open this file.

Whole genome sequencing (PDF 365KB)

You may need to download additional plug-ins to open this file.

Header image copyright: M J Richardson CC BY 3.0