Antibiotic resistance: global threat to public health

Every day, antibiotics save many lives all over the world. They have become indispensable in all kinds of situations, from basic healthcare to advanced medicine. But what will happen if antibiotics stop working? Developing new, globally available antibiotics is not just a public health issue; it is also a critical factor for our globalised society. At Uppsala Antibiotic Center, Uppsala University is bringing the combined forces of research, education and innovation to bear on the challenge of seeking solutions to antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance is a rapidly growing problem. In the EU alone, 33,000 people die every year because of infectious diseases against which antibiotics and other anti-infection drugs are no longer effective. The annual number of global deaths has already reached 700,000 and by 2050 this figure may have increased to 10 million deaths at a cost approaching USD 100 trillion. Sooner or later, bacteria develop resistance to all antibiotics, so it is necessary continuously to develop new pharmaceutical drugs and diagnostic methods. Developing drugs and diagnostics is a lengthy process that requires stable funding. Consequently, there is a great and urgent need to stimulate research that can identify completely new antibacterial substances, to find alternative modes of antibacterial drug development, and to pursue promising projects in diagnostics.

Uppsala Antibiotic Center (UAC) is an interdisciplinary centre at Uppsala University for research, education, knowledge dissemination and innovation focused on tackling and finding solutions to the global challenge of antibiotic resistance from every perspective. The research pursues a deeper understanding of the development of resistance by bacteria and the conditions for using available antibiotics.

In UAC, Uppsala University has built up a successful platform for presenting a broad range of solutions to the problems of antibiotic resistance. In addition to strong basic research in pharmaceutical development, microbiology and antibiotic resistance, the University conducts internationally outstanding research in diagnostics, new financial models, law, clinical research, ethics, global health, sustainable development, behaviour and learning. The University also leads several major international, EU-funded research projects in the area of antibiotics. Several projects and networks operating here aim to find solutions to the growing problems associated with antibiotic resistance.

The antibiotic challenge also involves studying how the culture of a society influences the use of antibiotics and how entrenched patterns of behaviour can be changed. ReAct is an Uppsala-based international network that has been an important international actor in recent years in attempts to influence antibiotic use from a health system perspective.

Petriskål med odling.

“Unless the obstacles to developing new antibiotics are overcome, antibiotic resistance will continue to be one of the greatest threats to healthcare throughout the world.”
Dan I. Andersson, Professor of Medical Bacteriology, Director of Uppsala Antibiotic Center

Related information

Uppsala Antibiotic Center

ReAct – international network fighting against antibiotic resistance