In the face of growing international concerns over antimicrobial resistance, Qiagen has launched a one-stop shop that compiles publicly available genomic data, scientific literature and phenotypic information on potential superbugs.
The diagnostics developer rolled out its Microbial Insights AR integrated database alongside a new commitment to the Antimicrobial Resistance Challenge spearheaded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Launched in September 2018 at the United Nations‘ General Assembly, the year-long challenge has gathered commitments from dozens of biopharma companies, healthcare providers, payers and public health agencies to better share data and improve appropriate antibiotic use, as well as invest in the development of new antibiotics, vaccines and diagnostics.
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“We owe it to the future of humankind to find new solutions to counter the threat of a global pandemic of antibiotic-resistant infections,” Jonathan Sheldon, senior vice president of Qiagen’s bioinformatics business, said in a statement. “We bring unique expertise to this fight, with Qiagen’s deep relationships in the global research community and proven portfolio of tools for analysis and interpretation.”
The company has also pledged to develop new molecular and genomic assays for the detection of biomarkers linked to antimicrobial resistance and described plans to announce an expansion of its diagnostics portfolio in the coming months.
Meanwhile, Qiagen’s Microbial Insights platform brings together four main resources, including the National Institutes of Health’s AMRFinder database of resistance genes.
It also incorporates the Comprehensive Antibiotic Resistance Database developed at McMaster University, which provides models of the molecular basis of resistance; the ResFinder tool, which identifies resistance genes and chromosomal mutations in bacterial DNA sequences; and the ARG-ANNOT database of peptide markers.
In addition, Qiagen plans to make a proprietary genomic knowledge base available to global researchers through its partnership with ARES-Genetics. ARESdb, set for release this September, aims to provide whole genome sequencing data, resistance markers and antibiotic susceptibility data on more than 11,000 clinically isolated strains of bacteria.
Separately, the World Health Organization has launched a new campaign that urges governments to adopt its AWaRe tool, developed by the WHO Essential Medicines List, that classifies antibiotics as safe to use, under surveillance or kept in reserve.
The tool specifies which antibiotics can be used for infections ranging from the most common to the most serious, and lists which should be used as a last resort
“Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most urgent health risks of our time and threatens to undo a century of medical progress,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO. “All countries must strike a balance between ensuring access to life-saving antibiotics and slowing drug resistance by reserving the use of some antibiotics for the hardest-to-treat infections.”
The campaign aims to increase the proportion of global consumption of antibiotics in the first access category to at least 60%, consisting mainly of generic, narrow-spectrum antibiotics.