Australian biotech leader Microba joins the battle against antibiotic resistance

Media Announcement Friday 31 May 2019


Globally recognised gut microbiome specialists Microba will join forces with other internationally-renowned research entities on a groundbreaking project to tackle antimicrobial resistance. 


University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) has received a $1 million boost through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to lead a consortium of 26 researchers across 13 organisations to develop an antimicrobial resistance (AMR)  ‘knowledge’ engine that, by using smart algorithms and machine learning, will  track, trace and predict outbreaks of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and inform interventions. 

Named OUTBREAK (One-health Understanding Through Bacterial Resistance to Antibiotics Knowledge) and headed by Professor Steven Djordjevic of UTS, this software will be used to reduce the risk of AMR in humans and animals who often rely on many of the same antibiotic medications.  


AMR has been predicted to potentially cause 10 million deaths by 2050 annually, with the MRFF Frontier initiative supporting the endeavor with an initial one-year grant. 


Microba provides key expertise to the project as a specialist in whole genome sequencing and metagenomics which will encompass a range of scientific areas to help produce the OUTBREAK system. 


Microba Chief Executive Officer Blake Wills said that the OUTBREAK project was key to potentially saving millions of lives in the future. 


“At Microba, we are working on discovering new correlations between microorganisms and health,

and ultimately working towards better gut and overall health available to all,” he said. 


“This collaboration allows all parties involved to contribute to the OUTBREAK vision, which will see leading Australian research teams working toward the ultimate goal of saving lives. 


“Investment by the Australian Government in this project only serves to magnify the impact such a machine could have on the global population.” 


The end goal of OUTBREAK is to have different and localised data streams for the AMR engine, which will allow the software tool to be tailored at a geographical or sector level. 


“Every city, town, region and country will have a different AMR fingerprint and therefore different risks,” Professor Djordjevic said.  


“Our vision, ultimately, is a worldwide artificial intelligence-powered network for AMR surveillance and mitigation, led by Australian research and industry.” 


Mr Wills said that AMR was often said to be the greatest health challenge facing not only the nation of Australia, but the world. 


“We have the potential in this project to see a real, tangible, positive impact on a global scale,” he said. 


“Working together, we can make a difference and become world leaders in the AMR space.” 




Read more about the project here.