On the 14th and 15th of December 2016, the Consortium of the DIAGORAS project met in the Hoboken Salon of the Natural History Museum of Rotterdam. This 4th meeting was both an opportunity to share and talk with each other about the latest advances of the DIAGORAS project but also the perfect moment to discover the exhibition “Antibiotics: how much longer?” that the Consortium had contributed to together.
Antibiotic Resistance is a serious threat
Since the first World Awareness Antibiotic Week in 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) launches campaigns every year against Antibiotic Resistance in order to reduce the misuse of antibiotics but also to prevent a global health issue that could move us backwards to earlier days of healthcare.
However, bacteria evolve so fast that we are currently in a race against the clock. This year, several cases of superbugs resistant to all antibiotics were recorded in hospitals of the United States and in China. The first case of death from a superbug resistant to antibiotics was reported officially in January 2017. It concerned a woman in her 70s from Nevada, who was infected with the Klebsiella pneumoniae, called “nightmare bacteria” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) because of its ability to spread antimicrobial resistance (AMR) to other bacteria types. This case should be taken as the ultimate warning before it’s too late as the results of testing from the Washoe County hospital revealed that K. pneumoniae was resistant to the 26 antibiotics available in the United States.
In addition to implementing the DIAGORAS project, one of our priorities is to inform the general public about AMR. We hope our latest research advances will contribute to the fight against AMR before our world enters a post-antibiotic era, where a simple infection could kill us again, as it was the case before the discovery of penicillin in 1928 by Alexander Fleming.
Our aim is to make people realise the seriousness of this threat that could kill more than 10 million people a year by 2050, if there’s no new discovery in this field. As the members of DIAGORAS deeply feel concerned about this threat, we invested in communication about antibiotic resistance with the general public by the means of an exhibition.
An exhibition to communicate with the general public
The exhibition retraces the research history of antibiotics from the discovery of penicillin in 1928 by Alexander Fleming up to now. Furthermore, it explains in detail what we are fighting against, the role of antibiotics and the importance to use them sparingly. Not only have the bacteria evolved but also the equipment used for research. The exhibition allows the visitors to see how researchers used to work throughout history and visitors can see how bacteria can respond to antibiotics thanks to some exposed Petri dishes in the room.
Even though the exhibition is in Dutch, a flyer transcription of the content is available in English.
In the centre of the room, we all tried a device able to detect the bacteria on our hands which have developed an antibiotic resistance. Right after the test, a display on the wall switches on and a scientist explains in a video the results of the analysis. This is an attractive and interesting manner to raise awareness about antimicrobial resistance especially among the children. Indeed, during the scan of your hand, you can see that several dots appear, the more dot you see, the more resistant bacteria are present.
We genuinely hope that this exhibition will reach the general public and help make antimicrobial resistance one of the priorities in research in order to find a new solution before it’s too late. The exhibition “Antibiotics: how much longer?” is located on the first floor of the Natural History Museum of Rotterdam and will be accessible until the 13th of August 2017.
Partly sponsored by the DIAGORAS project, this exhibition summarises the reasons why our project has been created, gathering a European team of experts from different fields such as medicine, engineering, industry and communication to find a solution to this threat before it’s too late. Our mission is to conceive and develop a device able to diagnose oral and respiratory tract infections and identify antibiotic resistance, which will help health workers to deliver a personalised treatment for each patient.
 Chen L, Todd R, Kiehlbauch J, Walters M, Kallen A. Notes from the Field: Pan-Resistant New Delhi Metallo-Beta-Lactamase-Producing Klebsiella pneumoniae — Washoe County, Nevada, 2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:33. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6601a7
 Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, chaired by Jim O’Neill, December 2014, p.6, https://amr-review.org/sites/default/files/AMR%20Review%20Paper%20-%20Tackling%20a%20crisis%20for%20the%20health%20and%20wealth%20of%20nations_1.pdf