Skip to content

Study seeks to more accurately predict antibiotic resistance before it occurs in patients

Scientists have embarked on a study to enable them to more accurately predict resistance to new antibiotics before it occurs in patients.


The work, being led by researchers at Nottingham Trent University, will be instrumental in improving the development of diagnostic tests for antimicrobial resistance.

Antimicrobial resistance is a serious global issue which leads to failure of antimicrobial treatment of infections. It was attributed to 1.27 million deaths in 2019.

Microbes in bacterial infections develop methods that protect them from antimicrobials, and this leads to resistance.

The new study, funded by the Royal Society, aims to limit this resistance by enabling the selection of antibiotics which will successfully treat an infection.

Diagnostic tests currently predict antimicrobial resistance through the detection of segments of DNA, which produce enzymes that result in antibiotic resistance.

Changes, or mutations, in the genes associated with resistance to antibiotics, however, can result in a mismatch between predicted and actual antibiotic resistance, limiting the usefulness of these tests.

The research will involve identifying and characterising mutations which change the function of resistance genes.

The team will initially study resistance to the new antibiotic meropenem-vaborbactam, which has recently been introduced for the treatment of complicated urinary tract infections, of which E.coli is the primary cause.

They will use a targeted approach to produce mutations resulting in resistance to the antibiotic, which will then enable them to determine the effect of these mutations on growth, enzyme activity and resistance to other antibiotics.

“Bacterial infections are becoming increasingly hard to treat due to resistance to at least one antibiotic,” said lead researcher Dr Alasdair Hubbard, an evolutionary microbiologist in Nottingham Trent University’s School of Science and Technology.

He said: “We need to get better at understanding and detecting antimicrobial resistance to enable clinicians to choose the right treatment options. This study will help us identify mutations which cause resistance to new antibiotic combinations before they arise in the clinic so that antimicrobial resistance can be detected and bacterial infections treated successfully.

“This will improve the development of diagnostic tests to predict antibiotic resistance and antibiotic selection, helping to limit the emergence of resistance.”

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Dave Rogers, Public Relations Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8782, or via email.

    About Nottingham Trent University

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) received the Queens Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2021 for cultural heritage science research. It is the second time that NTU has been bestowed the honour of receiving a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research, the first being in 2015 for leading-edge research on the safety and security of global citizens.

    The Research Excellence Framework (2021) classed 83% of NTU’s research activity as either world-leading or internationally excellent. 86% of NTU’s research impact was assessed to be either world-leading or internationally excellent.

    NTU was awarded Outstanding Support for Students 2020 (Times Higher Education Awards). It was the University of the Year 2019 (Guardian University Awards, UK Social Mobility Awards), Modern University of the Year 2018 (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide) and University of the Year 2017 (Times Higher Education Awards).

    NTU is the 5th largest UK institution by student numbers, with over 33,000 students and more than 4,000 staff located across five campuses. It has an international student population of 4,000 and an NTU community representing around 160 countries.

    In the past 15 years, NTU has invested £450 million in tools, technology and facilities.

    NTU is in the UK’s top 10 for number of applications and ranked first for accepted offers (2019 UCAS UG acceptance data) It is also among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    75% of NTU students go on to graduate-level employment or graduate-entry education / training within fifteen months of graduating (Guardian University Guide 2021).

    NTU is 4th globally (and 3rd in the UK) for sustainability in the 2021 UI Green Metric University World Rankings (out of more than 900 participating universities).

Published on 13 June 2022
  • Subject area: Sciences including sport sciences
  • Category: Press office; Research; School of Science and Technology