Combating Antimicrobial Resistance with Biosensors

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With global mortality from antimicrobial resistance estimated to reach 10 million per year globally by 2050, this month’s Sensors in Medicine conference (SiM 2019, London) offered a hopeful glimpse into the technological advances that are “opening up new frontiers in individualized antimicrobial therapy.” 

Specifically, this discussion focused on microneedle-based sensors, which are “minimally invasive, painless, and cause no bleeding.” Dr. Timothy Rawson and Dr. Sally Gowers of Imperial College London explained how coupling a real-time β-lactamase sensor to a closed-loop system can provide personalized drug dosing, offering more individualized use of antibiotics and a better understanding of the relationship between dose and clinical response.

Currently, 30 to 60 per cent of antibiotic prescriptions are “inappropriate”. Roughly a third of these relate to wrong course-of-treatment duration, a third to infections that are non-bacterial, and a third to incorrect or simply redundant dosing, said Rawson. But “dosing is a dynamic process.” Individualized dosing can reduce the development of antimicrobial resistance, reduce the incidence of toxicity, and, in critically ill patients, can reduce 30-day mortality. 


Rawson and Gowers are part of an Imperial College team that has presented proof-of-concept results showing the potential of the microneedle-based biosensor to provide a minimally invasive means to measure real-time β-lactam concentrations in vivo-representing “an important first step toward a closed-loop therapeutic drug monitoring system.”

The Sensors in Medicine conference is organized by Sensor100, an international network active in the development and commercialization of bio-sensors and chemical sensors.