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Combating Antimicrobial Resistance with Biosensors


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.

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