National Reference Laboratory for Antimicrobial Resistance (NRL AR)
Antibiotics are normally understood to mean naturally formed metabolites of bacteria and fungi which inhibit the growth of or kill other microorganisms. Today, synthetically or genetically engineered substances with an antimicrobial effect are also included in this category. The antibiotics used for treatment purposes (approximately 80 out of 8,000 known ones) target various sites of action in the microorganisms.
Soon after the introduction of the first antibiotics in medicine, registant pathogens were observed whose growth was no longer influenced by substances which had previously inhibited or destroyed them. Microorganisms have come up with diverse counter-strategies in order to develop non-sensitivity (resistance) to these substances.
Microorganisms which can be transmitted directly between animals and humans or indirectly via foods to humans, so-called zoonotic agents, are of particular relevance when it comes to consumer health protection. Infections in humans triggered by these pathogens constitute a hazard for human health. An infection with these resistant bacteria leads to additional problems which may manifest in a prolonged course, increased severity of the disease and higher costs.
The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) has assigned the duties of the National Reference Laboratory for Antimicrobial Resistance pursuant to Article 33 of Regulation (EC) 882/2004 to BfR. The remit of the National Reference Laboratory involves, more particularly, contributing to achieving high standards and uniformity of test results.
The focus of its work is on recording comparable data on antibiotic resistance in zoonotic agents and other pathogens to the extent that they present a hazard to public health. In this context the NRL-AR co-ordinates the choice of the isolates for testing with the federal states and their laboratories and also conducts its own resistance tests on isolates from animals, food, feed and the environment. The results are regularly compiled in the annual zoonosis report which is prepared for Germany pursuant to Article 9 of Directive 2003/99/EC and passed on to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Resistance testing is routinely done using internationally recognised quantitative methods in an accredited laboratory. The quality of the results is guaranteed by participation in international interlaboratory tests. Various modern molecular-biological methods are available for the targeted epidemiological examination of resistance determinants.
Main areas of the NRL for Antibiotic Resistance
The main areas of the National Reference Laboratory for Antibiotic Resistance (NRL-AR) within BfR are:
- Fulfilment of tasks within the framework of the Zoonoses Monitoring Directive (2003/99/EC)
- Antibiotic resistance testing
- Collaboration in the analysis of infection chains
- Molecular characterisation of antibiotic resistance determinats
- Conduct of interlaboratory studies