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Bristol team to help in the fight against superbugs

18 November 2015

Researchers at the University of Bristol have received £1.5 million from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) for a trial looking at easing the pain of ear infections. This is part of a larger investment of over £15.8 million into research to tackle into drug resistant infections by the NIHR, the research arm of the NHS.

Sixteen studies have been funded as part of a call for more research into drug resistant infections also known as antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Drug-resistant infections present a major threat to the future of healthcare and could result in 10 million avoidable deaths in the world every year by 2050, from antibiotic resistant infections, such as MRSA, sepsis and multi-drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

The Bristol trial, CEDAR, will involve 500 children participating in a study to find out whether eardrops containing a combined local anaesthetic and painkiller can ease the pain of ear infections.

Professor Alastair Hay, from the Centre for Academic Primary Care in the university’s School of Social and Community Medicine, is leading the study. He is also Director of the Respiratory Infections Health Integration Team. He said:

"Antibiotics are not painkillers, and they do not treat the worst symptom of ear infections: the child's ear pain. This study will give us a unique opportunity to test a new way of helping families to manage the distress and disruption caused by children's ear pain."

Antibiotics are prescribed to a higher proportion of children with middle ear infections than any other respiratory infection of childhood, in spite of world class evidence that they are rarely effective. Alternative treatments are urgently needed given the serious concerns about increasing resistance to antibiotics. Find out more about the CEDAR trial.

Professor Dame Sally C Davies, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Health said:

"Antimicrobial resistance is a very serious problem for society causing 5,000 deaths in the UK each year. We will lose this battle unless we get more evidence on how to prevent resistance in bacteria developing. That is why the research that the NIHR has committed to funding is so vital. This will help us stop current everyday health problems becoming fatal."

Other projects underway include research into interventions to improve antimicrobial prescribing of doctors in training, using probiotics to reduce infections in care homes, a clinical trial giving painkillers to children with ear infections instead of antibiotics, and a study looking at improving the management of drug resistant TB.

Bristol team to help in the fight against superbugs
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