For Patients and the Community

What is antibacterial resistance?

Although many bacteria are harmless and often beneficial to humans, some bacteria can cause serious disease which, if left untreated, can lead to permanent damage or death. Since the 1940s, clinicians have successfully used antibacterial treatments to inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria, but in recent decades many previously effective antibacterial medications have become less effective. The problem lies in bacteria’s innate ability to mutate its genetic makeup in response to the antibacterial and antimicrobial medication’s targeted attacks. Overuse of antibacterial treatments has led to increased resistance in pathogenic bacteria and has forced physicians to turn to alternative medications which are often more expensive and sometimes less effective and more toxic to patients. The traditional solution to this problem has been to develop new antibacterial and antimicrobial compounds, but with discovery failing to keep up with multiple-drug resistant pathogenic bacteria, problems caused by these pathogens like bacteremia (bacteria in the blood), skin and soft tissue infections, complicated urinary tract infections, and pneumonias have become harder to treat.

What are the goals of the ARLG?

The goal of the ARLG is to prioritize, design, and conduct clinical research studies that will reduce the public health threat of antibacterial resistance. Given the growing health problem presented by antibacterial and antimicrobial resistance, it is important that leaders in the medical and scientific communities act quickly to ensure the effectiveness of current antibacterial medications and establish practices that will limit the increasing prevalence of multiple-drug resistant  bacteria. In addition, there is an urgent need to prioritize research that will lead to new antibacterial treatment strategies.

The ARLG is facilitated by the Duke Clinical Research Institute, working under an executive committee of internationally recognized leaders in the field. Our current research agenda focuses on conducting transformational studies that will inform guidelines to change clinical practice and reduce the threat and impact of antibacterial resistance.

Additional Information

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