APC Microbiome Ireland (APC) SFI Research Centre Antimicrobial Resistance Fellowship yields new data regarding the implications of antibiotic use in early life, and the effect of antibiotic use in standard dry cow therapy.

  • Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the top global public health and development threats. It is estimated that bacterial AMR was directly responsible for 1.27 million global deaths in 2019 and contributed to 4.95 million deaths Source: WHO
  • Under a dedicated funding call by Science Foundation Ireland in 2018 for increasing PhD numbers in Centres, APC established an AMR PhD Fellowship Programme based on the topic of exploiting the microbiome for potential solutions to the AMR crisis.
  • One of the recent programme graduates, Dr Dhrati Patangia, is first author on a suite of five AMR peer-reviewed publications.
  • Her research, detailed in two recent publications show that use of antibiotics in very early life can lead to a buildup of multiple drug resistance genes in the infant gut microbiome.

A further publication describes the findings from a study that investigated dry cow therapy and provided new data that showed the use of antibiotics did not have any benefits when administered in the drying off period.

A series of five research publications on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) by APC Microbiome Ireland, a world-leading SFI Research Centre based in University College Cork and Teagasc Moorepark, yields new data regarding the implications of antibiotic use in early life and the effects of antibiotics in standard dry cow therapy. Lead author of these publications, Dr Dhrati Patangia, was recruited under the APC AMR PhD Fellowship programme funded by SFI in 2018. A paper published in the international scientific journal Microbiome provides evidence that early life exposure of infants to specific antibiotics could lead to multi-drug resistance. A second publication, in the journal Antibiotics, suggests that antibiotic use does not benefit standard dry cow therapy.

Dr Patangia is also lead author on two reviews in highly cited publications; one in the prestigious review journal Trends in Microbiology entitled ‘Vertical transfer of antibiotics and antibiotic resistant strains across the mother/baby axis’ which reviews the mechanisms of mother to infant transmission of antibiotics and antibiotic resistant strains. The second paper published in the journal Microbiology Open Reviews is entitled ‘Impact of antibiotics on the human microbiome and consequences for host health’ discusses the adverse effects of antibiotics on the gut microbiota and thus host health and suggests alternative approaches to antibiotic use. 

Dr Patangia is a recent PhD graduate from the APC and School of Microbiology, University College Cork. While undertaking her PhD, she was based in Teagasc in Moorepark, Co Cork, building on the close collaborative relationship between UCC and Teagasc. Dr Patangia was supervised by Professor Catherine Stanton, APC co-Principal Investigator, and Professor Paul Ross, Director of APC, and has won several awards including best poster prize at the 2022 Dublin University Microbiological Society focused meeting.

Dr Patangia said: “My interest in the microbiome started in India when I chose the topic for a research module as part of my Masters programme. I was delighted to discover the APC Antimicrobial Resistance PhD Fellowship programme which enabled me to target my PhD on my interest areas: the human microbiome, antibiotic resistance, and early life. While antibiotics provide lifesaving benefits, they come at the cost of the potential development of antimicrobial resistance which could result in a lack of effective medication in certain situations.” 

APC Director Professor Paul Ross said: “The goal of the APC Antimicrobial Resistance PhD Fellowship programme was to train a group of PhD students with specific research skills to create an expert cohort of AMR researchers. AMR is a huge global crises with an anticipated twofold surge in resistance to last-resort antibiotics by 2035, compared to 2005 levels according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation (source WHO).”  

Professor Philip Nolan, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland, said: “SFI is committed to supporting research excellence to address the future challenges. Antimicrobial resistance is a growing global public health challenge, we congratulate APC and Dr Patangia in their recent scientific discoveries towards a better understanding of and solutions addressing antimicrobial resistance.”

Vice President for Research and Innovation at UCC Professor John F. Cryan said: “UCC has a research focus on the challenges and opportunities that are shaping the future of our nation and the wider world. UCC scientists at APC are pioneering critical research to combat the global AMR crises through microbiome research.”

Teagasc Senior Principal Research Officer and APC PI Catherine Stanton said: “There is no doubt that antibiotics are vital for the treatment of certain infections in infants.  However, this study has shown that antibiotic exposure in early life has an immediate and persistent effect on the gut microbiome, highlighting the need for new alternatives/strategies to be developed and used where needed to restore the microbial ecosystem and maintain a healthy microenvironment, and reduce the use of prophylactic antibiotics during the crucial infancy stage.”