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Ohio State team delivers global impact on antibiotic resistance mitigation and food safety

Many researchers studying antibiotic resistance gathered for the Global Collaboration Conference on Antibiotic Resistance Mitigation and Food Safety: Science, Innovation and Strategies held in Shanghai, China from October 27 – 28. The conference was part of a project jointly delivered by partner institutes of the Global Innovation Initiative (GII), a combined effort of the United States and United Kingdom to strengthen global collaboration on STEM-related issues.

The GII project team leader, Hua Wang, professor in Ohio State’s Department of Food Science and Technology, organized the conference and reported recent advancements in innovative research and mitigation related to antibiotic resistance, food safety and human diseases. More than 20 other experts from the United States, Europe, New Zealand and China, including Ohio State’s Zhongtang Yu, associate professor, Valente Alvarez, professor and Lisa Bielke, assistant professor, all from College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, shared their innovative work to a broad audience of professionals from food, agriculture, veterinary and human medicine.

Ohio State President Michael V. Drake, M.D. traveled to Shanghai to deliver opening remarks at the conference. He was accompanied by Ohio State leaders Bruce McPheron, interim executive vice president and provost, and William Brustein, vice provost of global strategies and international affairs. Youming Cai, president of the Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences and Li Jin, vice president of research at Fudan University, were also in attendance to show their support for the GII team’s efforts.

“Although the ultimate concern of antibiotic resistance is infections by antibiotic resistant pathogens no longer treatable by existing antibiotics, we have discovered multiple key risk factors that contributed to the antibiotic resistance problem seen today. The food chain has a critical role in spreading antibiotic resistance due to the large number of non-pathogenic bacteria (including certain strains used as probiotics and fermentation starter cultures), and conventional food intake introduces these bacteria and resistance genes to human and animal gut microbiota,” said Wang.

“The broadly used oral drugs further destroy the normal gut microbiota, lead to the rapid rise of antibiotic resistance in the gut microbiota, and then contaminate the environment through feces. By taking care of the problematic bacteria strains and using alternative method to give antibiotics, the Ohio State team has already demonstrated great success in reducing the antibiotic resistance gene pool in both retail foods and animal hosts, addressed the dilemma in drug usage and the need for prompt disease prevention and treatment, as well as many other diseases associated with chronic infections and disturbed gut microbiota. The environmental impact can also be minimized through proper manure processing. However, most people are not aware of these new scientific breakthroughs. For most audiences, including scientific and regulatory leaders in China, it was the first time they were exposed to this comprehensive picture about antibiotic resistance, and learned the new strategies to control the problem as well as to protect the healthy gut microbiota.”

The GII partners also gathered Chinese experts through the Fudan Forum of Science and Technology, which aimed on creating a blueprint for research focus and control strategies for the Chinese government and agencies.

According to Wang, “These events and the derived recommendation greatly help the scientific community as well as government agencies to focus on targeted and innovative strategies to control the antibiotic resistance problem. The strong support from Ohio State leadership as well as partner institutes definitely enhanced the global impact of the GII team efforts, and facilitates more global collaboration and innovation.”

Ohio State’s China Gateway, which serves as a liaison between the university and faculty, alumni and students in China, helps facilitate major university initiatives.