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This Means War

The UK is at war… with antibiotic resistance. It says it will marshal the resources of all its research councils and inject £25 million ($43 million) into an effort to attack antibiotic resistant bacteria from multiple fronts, the Independent reports.

"Researchers have been waging a war on antimicrobial resistance for decades but up until now we’ve had no war cabinet to coordinate research on all fronts,” says Medical Research Council chief John Savill.

The bugs fired a volley recently, when a strain of human gut bacteria resistant to broad-spectrum antibiotics was discovered downstream from a sewage plant in the Midlands region.

The UK's research councils will pursue with a multi-pronged strategy that includes medical researchers, veterinarians, social scientists, economists, engineers, and designers.

The research groups will analyze antibiotics used in livestock and pets, take steps to help healthcare workers prevent and control hospital-acquired infections, investigate whether low levels of antibiotics found in the environment could be contributing to antimicrobial resistance, develop better diagnostics, and study how bacteria evade antibiotics, among other projects.

"This is about tackling the problem at every level and in every environment, from labs to livestock, from finding new diagnostic tools to educating professionals and the public," Savill says. "One hundred years ago, 25 percent of all deaths were due to bacterial infection. We cannot return to those days."