The Centre to Impact AMR is forging sustainable solutions to reverse and minimise AMR.

The war against superbugs is being fought on many fronts. The Centre builds teams to suit projects, bringing together expertise across evolutionary biology, nanotechnology, biomedical sciences, chemistry, microbiology, clinical research and social sciences.

The work can be broadly categorised under six themes, with a focus on finding modern solutions to an increasingly serious and sophisticated problem.

Understanding superbugs

To beat them, science needs to know all about them.

We are tracing the global spread of microbes and the evolution of AMR in urban and rural environments.

To monitor their impact, we are collecting and analysing samples from built and natural environments, including hospitals, homes, supermarkets and waterways.

Our aim is to try to future proof Australia by regularly mapping the state of superbugs using culture and non-culture methods combined with genomic sequencing technology. We need to know how fast things are changing.

Key programs

  • Mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance in key global pathogens
  • The role of bacterial spores in disease and antibiotic resistance
  • Innate immune interactions of AMR pathogens

Building barriers to infection

Prevention is always better than cure.

We are developing diagnostic tools and sampling methods for early detection of threat organisms in humans, as well as natural and built environments.

We are investigating how to reduce microbial loads and AMR through environmental interventions and biological engineering.

We are working to directly halt the spread of bacteria through:

  • innovative anti-infective coatings for furniture and equipment
  • new devices and cleansing protocols to remove superbugs, particularly in health-care settings.

Key programs

  • In vitro sensors for rapid diagnosis of AMR infections
  • Novel engineered micro-surfaces and macro-surfaces for reducing infection loads
  • Application of antimicrobial coatings to medical devices

Slowing AMR evolution

Science and society can stop the spread.

We are studying the genetic basis of AMR to understand how antibiotic resistance evolves, so evolution can be taken into account for the development of new strategies.

We are using computational modelling to provide a more efficient and effective way to understand bacterial responses to antibiotics.

We are investigating how societal change can minimise the chemical load that drives AMR, with an initial focus on removing antimicrobial compounds from soap and detergent.

Key programs

  • Informing communities of intervention strategies to reduce pathogens and AMR
  • Understanding and reversing the evolution of antimicrobial resistance.
  • Integrating AI, big data and behaviour change against superbugs

Community engagement

Using evidence to support social change

Preventing AMR requires that individuals understand how to avoid and manage common infections and use antimicrobials carefully and only when they are needed, for themselves and for future generations across human and animal health.

Our team of social scientists, clinicians and biomedical researchers are working together to generate new data and analyses of community engagement with AMR guidance, communications and education.

We are analysing AMR news media and public health campaigns, personal experience narratives on infections and antibiotics, policy discourse, and the social and economic drivers of AMR.

Our research includes stakeholder consultations to promote dialogue on effective policy and communications. Our Social Science Network in AMR programme conducts roundtable events on key topics with researchers, clinicians, decision-makers and other stakeholders.

Key programs

  • News media narratives on superbugs
  • Evidence for the effective AMR interventions
  • Digital media and AMR communications

Further information can be found here: Antimicrobial Futures and Societies

Reviving antimicrobials

Old ones can become new again.

We are working to optimise antimicrobial use by preventing and reversing drug resistance, and by optimising dose and combination therapy.

Knowledge of the susceptibilities that evolve with multidrug resistance can facilitate the targeted use of drug combinations based on the genotype of superbugs, bringing old drugs into use again.

New in vivo diagnostic technology that can rapidly detect and identify infections are being developed to enable rapid delivery of targeted therapy to the specific type of infection.

Key programs

  • Optimizing clinical use of antibiotics – combinations and dosing regimens
  • Developing an integrated approach to precision medicine targeting superbugs
  • Re-sensitizing strategies to make existing drugs useful again

Exploring the alternatives

New thinking goes beyond drug development.

While antimicrobial drugs will always have their place, they will never again be silver bullets. Our focus is on finding effective and complementary approaches.

Phage therapy, in particular, shows great promise but is a new therapeutic strategy in Australia. We are developing local expertise in phage biology, phage production at scale and preclinical evaluation of phage therapy.

The development of therapies that target the patient, to boost the immune response, is another new way to fight infection. Recent success shows how clinically approved drugs, such as anti-cancer drugs, act on immune cells to resolve infections.

Key programs

  • Characterising new bacteriophages for phage therapy and commercial applications
  • Novel compounds and materials as antibacterial agents
  • Repurposing existing drugs for the treatment of superbug infections