Nobel and other Prizes

Longitude Prize on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Longitude Prize, AMR

Why in the News?

Sysmex Astrego, a Sweden-based diagnostic company, won the £10 million Longitude Prize for developing a high-tech UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) test called the PA-100 AST System. 

What is Antimicrobial Resistance?

  • Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites change so that medicines no longer work against them.
  • This makes infections harder to treat and can lead to more severe illness and even death.
  • AMR can occur naturally through genetic changes or when one type of microorganism picks up resistance from another.
  • It can also occur randomly due to mutations or when resistant genes spread between different organisms.
  • The main reasons for AMR are antibiotics incorrectly or too often, not having access to clean water and good hygiene, not doing enough to prevent infections, and people not knowing how to use antibiotics properly.

Global Impact of AMR

  • Global Threat: Antibiotic-resistant infections caused nearly 1.3 million deaths in 2019, with projections to exceed cancer-related deaths by 2050.
  • Economic Impact: The global economy faces potential losses of up to 4 trillion by 2030 and 100 trillion by 2050 due to the AMR crisis.

About the Longitude Prize

  • The Longitude Prize, valued at £8 million (₹85 crore), was recently awarded for its profound implications in combating antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
  • The prize launched in 2014, aims to revolutionize infection management globally.
  • Historical Context:  
    • Origins: Established in 1714 to solve the maritime longitude problem, demonstrating the critical need for accurate navigation.
    • Modern Application: The 21st-century Longitude Prize addresses pressing global challenges like AMR, incentivizing innovative solutions.
  • Goal of the Prize:
    •  Aims to replace current lab-based diagnostic methods with rapid tests that guide targeted antibiotic therapies, combating AMR effectively.

About PA-100 AST System 

  • Technology Breakthrough: Developed by Sysmex Astrego, this system uses a phenotypic test that identifies UTI bacteria and performs antibiotic susceptibility testing in under 45 minutes.
  • Operation: A single-use cartridge processes less than half a milliliter of urine, using microfluidic traps and phase-contrast imaging in a shoe box-sized reader instrument.
  • Clinical Impact: Provides rapid “sensitive” or “resistant” results for antibiotics, aiding doctors in immediate, accurate treatment decisions at the point of care.

Current Challenges in UTI Diagnosis

  • Limited Accuracy: Current options include urine dipstick tests for quick results but limited accuracy (50-60%) and lab cultures with 2-3 day turnaround times.
  • Impact on Treatment: Delayed diagnosis often leads to empirical antibiotic use, contributing to antibiotic resistance worldwide.

Significance for India

  • Healthcare Burden: In India, millions seek treatment for UTIs annually, impacting lives and healthcare systems significantly.
  • Potential: Rapid, accurate point-of-care tests could revolutionize UTI management globally, saving lives and reducing healthcare costs.


[2014] Can overuse and free availability of antibiotics without a Doctor’s prescription be contributors to the emergence of drug-resistant diseases in India? What are the available mechanisms for monitoring and control? Critically discuss the various issues involved.

[2019] Which of the following are the reasons for the occurrence of multi-drug resistance in microbial pathogens in India?

  1. Genetic predisposition of some people
  2. Taking incorrect doses of antibiotics to cure diseases
  3. Using antibiotics in livestock farming
  4. Multiple chronic diseases in some people

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

(a) 1 and 2
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1, 3 and 4
(d) 2, 3 and 4

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