BiologyHealthScience News

Our Battle Against Bacteria

For ages now we’ve been battling an increasing problem – all caused by antibiotics.

Antibiotics have dated all the way back to 1928 after Alexander Fleming; a bacteriologist discovered penicillin at London’s St Mary’s Hospital. Since then, such a small idea has grown and blossomed into the antibiotics we know today and has saved over 100 million lives.

Although this wonder drug has taken a nasty turn, but now as a result of overuse they’re no longer working – this golden age of medicine has well and truly come to an end. The National Risk Register now considers antibiotics one of the greatest risks facing us – in fact over 70% of the world’s bacteria have developed a resistance to antibiotics. We’re now using the drugs of last resort.

It’s really a global habit that’s caused a crisis, to many people’s surprise Greece is actually the worst performing country with 35.1m, the UK only has 18.8m*. Although the numbers vary hugely, it does demonstrate that our habit of overuse has caused this problem.

Although it’s not all bad news, we are on the quest for the next wonder drug – the Longitude Prize aims to solve this increasing problem. The public voted from challenges ranging from paralysis, water shortage and antibiotic resistance. The public has decided that the challenge for the Longitude Prize 2014 is antibiotic resistance.

The Longitude Prize marks the 300th year anniversary of the Longitude Act.  300 years ago in 1714 the British Government set out a challenge to solve the greatest scientific mystery of the century – how to pinpoint a ship’s location at sea, just by knowing its longitude. This was the very first Longitude Prize. Over the past two years the Longitude Committee and Astronomer Royal Lord Martin Rees have brought together a team to bring the new prize to life and help identify some of the greatest challenges facing us today.

So, the challenge is to create a cheap, accurate, rapid and easy-to-use test kit for bacterial infections – all with a £10 million prize fund. The aim is to go one step further to solving the problem of antibacterial resistance, and cutting down on the huge problem of overuse.

You can get involved by checking out their website –  http://www.longitudeprize.org/challenge/antibiotics. The Longitude Prize will last around 5 years– with research and clinical trials taking place and we’ll be blogging on it, keeping you to date with all the latest advances. The submissions open from later this Autumn , so why not be part of history?

 

 

 

*This represents the daily doses per 1,000 inhabitants per day – this data applies to prescriptions outside of hospitals (data taken from the Telegraph)

 

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