DK: Agarplade (antibiotikaresistens). Foto:  Mikkel Adsbøl | EN: agar plate (antibiotic resistance). Photo:  Mikkel Adsbøl

Towards global surveillance of antimicrobial resistance

Thursday 26 Jan 17


Frank Møller Aarestrup
Professor, Head of Research Group
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 62 81

Analysis of waste water from 100 countries worldwide will be used to monitor the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in up to half the world’s population. This is idea behind a project headed by the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, which has received 8 million euros in funding from the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

Knowing where and how antimicrobial resistant bacteria spread is vitally important in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. Waste water contains vast amounts of information about the types of bacteria that are prevalent in an area and how many have developed resistance towards antimicrobial agents.

A project headed by the National Food Institute will analyze waste water from cities in more than 100 countries worldwide to show that in the long term it is possible monitor the occurrence of resistant bacteria in up to half the world’s population. Such a global surveillance programme would greatly improve our understanding of the occurrence and spread of resistance, and enable early intervention with targeted initiatives to combat resistant bacteria.

The project has received 8 million euros in funding from the Novo Nordisk Foundation and is a further development of activities in an EU project, which the National Food Institute launched in early 2016 in cooperation with several partners. In the project researchers take bacteria from waste water and use whole genome sequencing to map the disease-causing microorganisms’ entire DNA profile to find information about any resistant genes that are present.

The foundation’s funding will enable researchers from the National Food Institute, DTU Bioinformatics and University of Edinburgh to optimize the sampling design and develop mathematical models to explain the current occurrence and predict future emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance.

Data generated through the surveillance programme will be used to combat the emergence of resistance genes worldwide and to promote the appropriate use of antimicrobials. 

Read more

Read more about the Novo Nordisk Foundation grant in the foundation’s press release from 26 January 2017: Analysing wastewater from 100 countries to reduce antibiotic resistance.

You can also read more about the EU project Compare and the idea behind the waste water collection in the National Food Institute’s press release from 16 March 2016: Using waste water to prevent infectious diseases.