Visitors to High Lodge in Thetford Forest help UEA scientists to try and unearth new antibiotics
- Credit: Ian Burt
Visitors to High Lodge in Thetford Forest were encouraged by scientists from the University of East Anglia (UEA) to participate in project which could help fight antibiotic resistance.
The resistance of bacteria to the antibiotics prescribed to treat infections is a global concern.
Research in the medical world suggests that by 2050 drug resistant infections will kill an extra 10 million people a year worldwide - which is more than the amount of people who currently die from cancer.
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To help raise awareness of the issue and to try and unearth new antibiotics, scientists from the UEA and the Microbiology Society asked people young and old to collect a soil sample on their walk through the forest.
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Professor Laura Bowater, from UEA's Norwich Medical School, said: 'Most antibiotics are made from soil. We want the public to get involved and we want to do it to raise awareness of the problem with members of the public because it is an important issue.
'If they are aware of what is going on they can think about how they are using antibiotics and they can get the message out to their friends and family.'
The event was part of the Microbiology Society's Antibiotics Unearthed scheme.
Once the helper had collected the soil their details were taken so they could be kept informed about their sample.
Prof Bowater, who has worked at the UEA for 10 years, said: 'The reason I do this is because I am really scared and we need to wake people up to the issue. What we use now on our 'last resort' antibiotics and we only give them out really carefully but now we are finding they are becoming resistant.
'We need to look after the antibiotics we have and not just give them out and we need to find new antibiotics.'
The soil samples will be taken back to the labs at the UEA where they will grow for three to four days. They will be screened to see if there may be a new antibiotic. These will then be tested to see if it is a new antibiotic or a new bacteria.
Prof Bowater added: 'We live in hope because there has been new ones discovered using this method in the past.'
For more information about the project click here
Donna Reynolds and her son Isaac, from Norwich, took a sample on their walk through the forest.
She said: 'Isaac likes to play with the mud therefore it seemed like a really good idea to combine play with helping these guys.
'I am aware about what is being said about antibiotics and them being resistant so research is needed. It is good to get people involved in the research.'