The issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is already one of the greatest global health challenges today- causing an estimated 1.5m excess deaths per year, which is set to rise to 10m excess annually by 2050.
The economic impact of growing antimicrobial resistance is predicted to cause some $100tn USD in lost economic output by 2050, disproportionately affecting low and middle income countries.
The alarming- and escalating - development of bacterial resistance to antibiotics will be the primary focus of the Institute. Without effective antibiotics, the world will no longer be able to fight many common bacterial infections, making taken-for-granted procedures like caesarians, organ transplants, joint replacements and many cancer treatments unviable. In a post-antibiotic world, even a simple cut may have dire consequences.
The reason for microbial resistance developing so rapidly is twofold. The first is global overuse of antibiotics in humans, and global excessive overuse in animals and agriculture. Secondly, the field has attracted little scientific interest or funding stimulus in the last two decades, with no new antibiotics having been developed since the 1980s. The new Ineos Oxford Institute will provide the funding and impetus to conduct cutting edge research into understanding and addressing the global scale of the antibiotic resistance problem. As a top priority it will seek to develop animal-specific antibiotics for agriculture, potentially relieving the estimated 80% of human drugs being used in this sector which are constantly driving up resistance to our human arsenal of treatments. It will also join the urgent search for novel human antibiotics, and seek to increase public and policy action on antibiotic stewardship.
Oxford is not only one of the world’s greatest research universities- it has a long history of leading antibiotic research dating back to the discovery of penicillin, which Oxford scientists first developed into a viable human medicine in the 1940s. The new Institute will draw on existing scientific excellence and simultaneously nurture new talent in the field, seeking to attract some of the brightest scientific minds to tackle this global health issue as an urgent career priority.
INEOS believes that it is important for the company to ‘put back’ into society- and to do so in a meaningful way, where it can add more value than simply funding. Famous for delivering complex, large scale, ambitious manufacturing and sporting projects, INEOS will lend its management expertise to the Institute while safeguarding the total academic freedom of its research scientists. We believe this close association to be a promising powerful alliance. There is only limited research being pursued in this field worldwide, but as we have seen very clearly with the Covid-19 pandemic, we cannot take our medical health for granted. Bacteria are the oldest living organism on earth, and have already decimated our antibiotic armoury- the time to act against resistance is now.