By Zohorul Islam
From September 30 to October 2, 2015, representatives from public health, medical and veterinary sectors joined scientists working in the area of antimicrobial drug discovery and controlling multi-drug resistant bacteria at Copenhagen, Denmark for International Conference on One Health Antimicrobial Resistance (ICOHAR 2015). The conference was supported by three distinct projects funded by the EU Commission (TRAIN-ASAP), the Danish Research Council for Strategic Research (DanCARD) and the University of Copenhagen (UC-Care), together with SEGES pig research center, Zoetis, LEO pharma, and European Society of Clinical Microbiology (ESCMID). The presence of several prominent scientists in the field of antimicrobial drug discovery and therapy signifies the event. It consisted of seven different scientific seasons, poster presentation, and a satellite symposium, focusing on the impact of antimicrobial uses on animals and humans health.
PLOS Student Blogger Zohorul Islam received a grant from ESCMID to attend the conference and will recap some of the key message from ICOHAR 2015 in this blog post.
Scope and impact
The incidence of multidrug resistant bacteria has been increasing over the past several decades in human and animal reservoirs, and these trends pose a global public health threat. In the wake of antimicrobial resistance and other global health disasters stemming from zoonotic disease transmission, climate change, and other factors, scientists and public health researchers have come to recognize the “One Health” concept, which recognizes that the health of humans is linked to the health of animals and the environment. The primary focus of this conference was implementing the One Health approach by sharing innovative research, and promoting interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaboration between scientists and researchers. The output could foster the integration of complementary disciplines and sectors to develop new “green” antimicrobials and strategies to mitigate the global burden of drug resistant infections. The ‘One Health’ philosophy may seem new to some people, but the concept has long been recognized both nationally and globally and is gathering more momentum. The American Veterinary Medical Association’s One Health Initiative Task Force defines One Health as “the collaborative effort of multiple disciplines-working locally, nationally, and globally — to attain optimal health for people, animals and our environment”. The approach represents a paradigm shift in global public health policy and disease control system.
Welcome and keynote presentation
Professor Luca Guardabassi delivered the welcoming speech at the conference, which identified the One Health approach as vital to surmounting the global challenge of antimicrobial resistance. Afterwards, the keynote presenter, Professor Robert E.W. Hancock from the University of British Columbia, shared his fascinating research on new adjunctive approaches for treating multiple antibiotic resistant pathogen. His lab studies three basic types of research; exploring the mode of action of cationic host defense (antimicrobial) peptides and their role as modulators of innate immunity; the development of novel therapeutics based on the immunomodulatory and antibiotic activities of host defense peptides; and investigating the functional genomics of a nosocomial pathogen.
Recently, his lab developed novel anti-biofilm peptides that kill multiple species of bacteria in biofilms, work synergistically with antibiotics, and effective in animal models of biofilm infections. A recent PLOS Pathogens paper describes the action of Broad-Spectrum Anti-biofilm Peptide in different condition. Professor Hancock mentioned that the manipulation of natural innate immunity represents a new adjunctive therapeutic strategy against antibiotic resistant infections. Cationic host defense peptides boost protective innate immunity while suppressing potentially harmful inflammation, and work synergistically with conventional therapy. His lab already examined the protection in mouse models against the superbug methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), E. coli, P. aeruginosa, MDR tuberculosis etc.
There were seven different scientific sessions wrapping all oral presentation. The session was divided based on the content and interest of research topic. Scientists presented their innovative research findings under following thematic sessions.
Session 1: New approaches to bypass intrinsic and acquired resistance
Session 2: Identification of novel antibiotic targets
Session 3: Identification of novel antigens for vaccine development
Session 4: Improved antimicrobial therapy, dosage and delivery of existing antibiotics
Session 5: Alternative non-antibiotic strategies
Session 6: Discovery and development of new antibiotics
Session 7: Novel antimicrobial strategies in veterinary medicine
One of the most interactive parts of this conference was a satellite symposium on ‘Zoonotic risk associated with antimicrobial resistance’. The event focused on the impact of antimicrobial uses in animals and the consequences on human health. It also discussed the burden of human infections caused by livestock-associated methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Internationally-renowned scientists from different organizations, such as the World Health Organization, Robert Koch Institute, the Danish National Food Institute, European Food Safety Authority, Danish Veterinary and Food Administration among others, participated in the panel discussion and discussed the implications of growing global antimicrobial resistance to their respective organizations.
Antimicrobial resistance is a growing global health crisis, and developing novel strategies for antimicrobial therapy requires interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaboration around the One Health approach are key steps to mitigating the effects of this public health issue.
Alberts B, Johnson A, Lewis J, et al. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 4th edition. New York: Garland Science; 2002. Innate Immunity. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK26846/
De la Fuente-Núñez C, Reffuveille F, Haney EF, Straus SK, Hancock RE (2014) Broad-spectrum anti-biofilm peptide that targets a cellular stress response. PLoS Pathog 10: e1004152. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004152.
Mookherjee N, Hancock RE (2007) Cationic host defence peptides: innate immune regulatory peptides as a novel approach for treating infections. Cell Mol Life Sci 64: 922–933. doi:10.1007/s00018-007-6475-6.
Gibbs EP (2014) The evolution of One Health: a decade of progress and challenges for the future. Vet Rec 174: 85–91. doi:10.1136/vr.g143.
International Conference on One Health Antimicrobial Resistance (ICOHAR 2015), http://www.icohar.org/
European Society of Clinical Microbiology; https://www.escmid.org/
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: One Health; http://www.cdc.gov/onehealth/people-events.html
American Veterinary Medical Association: One Health; https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reports/Documents/onehealth_final.pdf
About the Author
Zohorul Islam is a veterinarian, microbiologist and academician. His primary research interest is on antimicrobial resistance mechanism and evolution, microbial population structure, controlling the spread of drug resistant pathogens from animals to humans, and discovery of new strategies for the diagnosis and therapy of bacterial infections. He is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Health and Medical sciences, University of Copenhagen (UCPH), and at Statens Serum Institut, Denmark. Currently, he is studying on the transmission dynamics of livestock-associated Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. In his leisure, he reads fiction, thriller, watches movies, visits historical places, and likes to capture the natural landscape. Follow him on Twitter @zahir9th .