Role of Whole Genome Sequencing for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance
The group received a presentation (from Public Health England) entitled “The global transition from phenotypic to genotypic AMR surveillance – How do we get there?”. The talk highlighted the need to revolutionize Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing (AST) the need for faster accurate diagnosis of resistant infections so as to ensure there is: better antibiotic stewardship, reduction in length or elimination of the need for broad-spectrum empiric therapy and reduction in selection pressure and collateral damage.
Members noted how WGS could be beneficial to microbiology in areas such as defining lineages and surveillance, in identifying biomarkers, assessing virulence and predicting resistance (it was underlined that PHE is particularly interested in whether WGS could be used to predict resistance).
The presentation discussed what WGS had to offer compared to phenotypic AST: the ability to look at several resistance mechanisms, differentiation between wild-type and non-wild type ECOFFFs, the generation of huge amounts of additional data, and (for some organisms) it is faster, e.g. for TB.
Members welcomed the presentation and in the ensuing discussion highlighted a number of points which include:
• WGS like other screening/detection methods can be a very useful tool for surveillance purposes but should not be relied on as a standalone tool
• WGS if employed appropriately with other screening tools currently used (in surveillance) might be able to distinctly pick up newly emerging pathogens, assist in the monitoring of trends and help to define how interventions are working