Open Data Institute tackles antibiotic resistance with Wellcome Trust grant

Published: 7-Feb-2018

Pharmaceutical companies are taking steps towards openly sharing data on changes to the susceptibility of pathogens to antibiotics around the world as part of a pilot project to tackle the global problem of drug-resistant infections

Levels of antibiotic resistance change over time and can vary between hospitals in a city, cities in a country and countries in a region. Recognising and understanding these resistance trends can inform public health authorities on the rise and spread of resistant infections and ultimately lead to better use of antibiotics.

To help address this need, industry data on antibiotic susceptibility, commonly called ‘antibiotic surveillance data’, is being aggregated in the £70,000 pilot project funded by the Wellcome Trust and delivered by the Open Data Institute (ODI). The project already has active involvement from leading pharmaceutical and clinical research organisations.

The 90 day initiative was set-up following an industry workshop convened by Wellcome and the ODI in July 2017. Representatives from both organisations were joined by attendees from several major pharmaceutical companies and universities.

At the event the following was agreed:

  • as a first step, a platform or ‘portal’ needs to be created to identify all available data sets
  • to better understand resistance burden and unmet need, data about antibiotic susceptibility should be made as open as possible
  • ways to bring together datasets from different platforms to become a united resource should be explored

The pilot is the first step towards enabling one of the key activities in the Industry Roadmap on AMR, and has the potential to support innovation to address AMR and help increase surveillance capabilities globally.

The findings from the project to date will be shared in a workshop “Making open antimicrobial resistance (AMR) data happen” to be held on Tuesday 27 March 2018.

The workshop will look at the collected data and explore the current landscape of industry-led antibiotic surveillance. It will investigate potential ways to promote transparency, innovation and best use of this data to take action against AMR.

The threat caused by AMR is a growing and urgent global health problem. Currently, up to 700,000 people globally, including 50,000 people in Europe and the USA, die each year due to drug resistance in illnesses such as bacterial infections, malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

A number of major pharmaceutical companies have already committed to sharing surveillance data to make it accessible to public health bodies and healthcare professionals, through the ‘Davos Declaration’ on combating AMR, now hosted by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations (IFPMA) and the United Nations Global Assembly Declaration on AMR, which agree areas of common interest including access to R&D and stewardship. The ODI project aims to help achieve this objective.”

Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, said: “Antimicrobial resistance is incredibly complex and driven by many factors—and working together across all sectors is absolutely critical to understand and control it.

“But information holds the key, so it is really pleasing to see this initiative to share information more effectively. There is an incredible amount of new and improved data being generated and this project can bring real value in making the most of existing information. Now is the time to harness that power.”

David Beardmore, Commercial Director at ODI, said: “We are very grateful to Wellcome Trust etc who have agreed to fund a 90-day phase one project. Our focus in this first phase will be to gather all current antibiotic surveillance data in humans and explore how we can make it openly available.

“The ideal is to achieve a consistent framework for data to be generated and shared, with common standards and methodologies that will enable data from different programmes to be amalgamated and studied. It is hoped that by opening up this surveillance data we can ultimately further understanding of antimicrobial resistance, inform appropriate antibiotic use and help tackle the serious threat of drug resistant infections.”

Dr Tim Jinks, Wellcome’s Head of the Drug-Resistant Infections, said: “Addressing this urgent global health problem requires collective action across government, industry and civil society. We need to work together to get new treatments, but also to ensure existing medicines are used appropriately, effectively and are available to all who need them. Understanding of the spread of resistance is vital to both. This will be best achieved if information is shared and widely available.”

Findings from the project, delivered by the Open Data Institute (ODI), will be shared in a workshop to be held next month.

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