The University of Queensland’s top medical researchers are continually working toward finding solutions to global problems. The rapid growth of superbugs is a global concern, which requires the expertise of leaders in the area of antimicrobial resistance.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared antimicrobial resistance one of the greatest known threats to human health and, in 2011, issued a call to action. Responding to the call, a team at UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience – led by Laboratory Head Professor Matt Cooper – is endeavouring to save lives by fighting back against superbugs.

With his team, Professor Cooper is working to develop drugs and diagnostics for superbugs, viruses, and cancer.

Professor Cooper and his team advise people to avoid taking antibiotics unless they are absolutely necessary – because every time a person uses a drug, a bug is given the chance to become a superbug.

“At present, bacterial sepsis kills more than 170 Australians a week and costs our economy more than $1 billion a year in direct healthcare costs,” says Professor Cooper.

Joining the fight against infectious diseases is Dr Nouri Ben Zakour from UQ’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, who has tracked a multi-drug resistant E. coli strain. The particular strain she has tracked is only one gene away from becoming resistant to almost all antibiotics. By studying the evolution of this bacterial pathogen, Dr Zakour can work on developing tests to rapidly detect and help combat its spread.

Also striving to work against superbugs, PhD student Mr Hosam Zowawi from the UQ Centre for Clinical Research has won a Rolex Laureate for his work toward creating a diagnostic tool that can rapidly identify superbugs.

The work of these researchers, in the fight against superbugs, has the potential to help people on a global scale.

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