Carleton University’s Alex Wong, assistant professor in the Department of Biology is leading an international joint initiative receiving approximately $600,000 over four years from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) to support its research on antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
“Antimicrobial resistance is a major challenge in the treatment of infectious disease,” said Wong. “We will investigate the fitness of resistant pathogens with various genetic backgrounds in different environments. This will contribute to the development of policies and practices aimed at slowing the evolution and spread of resistance.”
Attempts to control AMR by stopping antimicrobial use have met with mixed success. Failures may be a result of the flawed assumption that resistant strains suffer a disadvantage in the absence of antimicrobial drugs. In particular, mutations that cause resistance may not be harmed or put at a disadvantage.
“This funding will enable Wong’s lab to carry out thorough studies on the genetics and evolution of antimicrobial resistance, and to engage in meaningful, long-term collaborations with international experts in Portugal and Denmark,” said Rafik Goubran, vice-president (Research and International).
Even when resistance is initially difficult for resistant strains, the accumulation of mutations that restore fitness while maintaining resistance may allow the strains to persist.
Wong’s research aims to determine whether resistant pathogens take the same routes to success in different environments. The study will use evolutionary theory to aid in predicting the persistence of resistant strains.
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