Plate with antibiotic bacterias. DYNAMO no. 62

Denmark leading fight against resistance

Friday 18 Sep 20


Christine Nellemann
Director of Institute
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 77 03


Rene S. Hendriksen
Professor, Head of Research Group
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 62 88

Did you know...

Antimicrobial resistance threatens medical advances. Organ transplantation, chemotherapy, and surgeries such as caesarean sections will become much more dangerous without effective antimicrobial agents to prevent and treat infections.
Source: WHO 

Did you know...

All bacteria can develop antimicrobial resistance.
 Source: The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration

DTU Food’s professional expertise in antimicrobial resistance is internationally recognized. Most recently, the department has been designated as a new reference centre for resistance by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Resistant bacteria do not respect national borders, which is why international cooperation is necessary. For several decades, DTU Food has played a leading international role in antimicrobial resistance research, and at the end of 2019 the department was able to add another international task to its portfolio when the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) designated DTU Food as a new reference centre for antimicrobial resistance.

In this role, the department will, among other things, help laboratories around the world to better analyse samples for the presence of resistance genes as well as type-determining resistant bacteria.

This will be achieved partly by advising and training laboratory staff in carrying out the analyses—and partly by providing so-called performance tests that test the ability of laboratories to determine the presence of resistance in different bacterial species.

“Being named as one of the FAO’s reference centres is a recognition of our professional expertise in the field of resistance which is now being further brought into play internationally. We’re very proud of this,” says Christine Nellemann, Head of Department, DTU Food. DTU Food is already the WHO Collaboration Centre and EU reference laboratory in the field of antimicrobial resistance.

New projects in Asia and Africa

2020 had barely got underway when DTU Food was able to announce again that a new, major project had received almost DKK 89 million of funding from the Fleming Fund. The money will be used to carry out resistance projects in Africa and Asia.

In Africa, Danish researchers will set up four laboratories in Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana, and South Africa respectively—enabling these countries to perform genome sequencing. With this technology it is possible to map the DNA profile of bacteria and thus quickly and relatively cheaply identify the presence of resistance genes, among other things.

“The data generated by laboratories could eventually be used to support decision-makers and advise authorities how to act in the fight against antimicrobial resistance,” says Rene S. Hendriksen, Professor with special responsibilities at DTU Food.

In Asia and Africa, DTU Food will contribute to the evaluation of the analytical capabilities of the Asian reference laboratories. If shortcomings are identified, the department will assist in further training and the development of any new tests that may be required.