L-R: Prof Brad Spiller; Dr Lucy Jones and Prof Tim Walsh

Ahead of World AMR Awareness Week (18 - 24 November), researchers from the Ineos Oxford Institute for antimicrobial research (IOI) came together to bring to life the dangers of AMR, one of the biggest public health threats facing the world today.

The Sex Bomb Party highlighted how common STIs, such as gonorrhoea, are already becoming resistant to antibiotics and this could be more widespread by 2040. This event kicks off the wider campaign, #NotInOurLifetime, which aims to raise awareness of antimicrobial resistance (AMR): one of today’s biggest global health threats. 

AMR occurs when microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi) develop the ability to resist the action of antibiotics that would otherwise kill them or prevent them from growing. The emergence of AMR is accelerated by the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals, as well as lack of research and innovation to develop new antibiotics.

Gonorrhoea is the second most common bacterial STI in the UK, with over 82,000 cases being reported in 2022, an increase of 50.3% (54,961) compared to 2021. The infection has already caused fatalities in the UK and is at risk of becoming increasingly untreatable in the future due to the rapid rise of AMR. 

It’s not just common STIs that are already resistant to antibiotics. 92% of bacteria that cause urinary tract infections (UTIs) are resistant to at least one common antibiotic, and 80% are resistant to two[1]

The Sex Bomb party propelled the reality of how AMR will impact lives into mainstream culture through interactive games, visual galleries and timelines, TED-style talks and karaoke.

In attendance at the event, Prof Timothy Walsh, Research Director at the Ineos Oxford Institute for antimicrobial research (IOI) stated: 

Due to a lack of investment in research, we haven’t discovered a new class of antibiotics for almost 40 years. Without the development of new solutions to combat the rise of bacterial resistance to current antibiotics, we will inevitably return to a pre-antibiotic era. Common medical procedures such as C-sections or hip replacement surgery could carry high risks.

Prof Timothy Walsh

Baroness Natalie Bennett, Member of the House of Lords and Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Antibiotics, pressed on the need for urgent government funding to discover new antibiotics:

Antimicrobial resistance is one of the leading global public health threats facing humanity today, however public awareness about the impacts AMR will have on our lives is worryingly low. Without increased funding for new antibiotics, our everyday life could be extremely dangerous. The government has to invest in new research before it’s too late.

Baroness Natalie Bennett

Other AMR experts in attendance included Dr Nick Brown, Consultant Medical Microbiologist, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust; Prof Brad Spiller, Head of Microbiology at the University of Cardiff; and Dr Lucy Jones, Senior Clinical Lecturer and Associate Specialist, Cardiff University and Cwm Taf Morgannwg University health board.

Just like sex, other activities that we take for granted could become highly dangerous due to AMR. Sport-related injuries, ear infections, burns and scrapes could all become harder to treat. Sex Bomb, is the start of a series of activations aimed to raise awareness about AMR and encourage people to sign a petition calling for the government to take action to prevent the life-threatening consequences of AMR in the next 10-20 years.

To get involved in the campaign and the movement for increased AMR research funding, sign the petition here www.notinourlifetime.org