Antibiotic resistance: Swiss physicians, vets, biologists and environmental researchers are working together to find solutions

17/Nov/2016

The SNSF is launching the National Research Programme "Antimicrobial Resistance", which aims to develop new solutions to ensure that antibiotics remain effective.

Worldwide, more and more pathogens are becoming resistant to today's antibiotics. The aim of European Antibiotic Awareness Day on 18 November 2016 is to highlight the fact that medicines are losing their effectiveness as a result and that once easy-to-treat infections are turning into deadly diseases. To counteract this development, the SNSF is launching the National Research Programme "Antimicrobial Resistance" (NRP 72).

One Health: humans, animals and environment

"Switzerland has excellent researchers working in the various areas crucial to finding a solution to the resistance problem," says president of the NRP 72 Steering Committee Christoph Dehio. "By making a coordinated effort, we can make a key contribution to overcoming antibiotic resistance here and throughout the world."

To this end, NRP 72 brings together human and veterinary medical practitioners, biologists and environmental scientists to work in an interdisciplinary setting. "The One Health approach is pivotal to our research," explains Dehio. "When it comes to antibiotic resistance, the health of humans is linked very closely with the health of farm animals as well as with the environment, for instance through the transmission of resistant germs in wastewater."

Curb spread, improve treatment

This correlation becomes clear under the first of the three NRP 72 modules, which will examine how particularly dangerous pathogens develop resistance and spread. An exact understanding of these processes may make it possible to interrupt them. The second module tackles the problem once humans or animals have already been attacked by resistant pathogens: new active compounds aim to target such difficult-to-treat infections. Improved diagnostic methods will facilitate choice of the right antibiotic. The goal of a third NRP 72 module is to identify strategies that will allow physicians, veterinary surgeons and farmers to use the currently available antibiotics in a more targeted way and with greater restraint in order to inhibit the development of resistance.

NRP 72 has a budget of 20 million Swiss francs. At the beginning of November 2016, the SNSF approved the first 21 research projects out of a total of 108 proposals received. Starting in 2017, the projects will be carried out at nine universities and higher education institutions throughout Switzerland. Initial research results will be published as of 2019. The programme synthesis is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

Contact

Barbara Flückiger Schwarzenbach
Programme Manager
Swiss National Science Foundation
Wildhainweg 3, CH-3001 Bern
Tel. +41 31 308 23 40
E-mail barbara.flueckiger@snf.ch

National Research Programmes

Under a Swiss government mandate, the SNSF conducts National Research Programmes (NRPs) designed to produce scientifically founded contributions to the resolution of problems of national significance. NRP teams work together with stakeholders across different disciplines and publish their final recommendations in synthesis reports.

Complete list of NRPs