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Antibiotic colistin now banned as feed additive for animals in China

Antibiotic colistin now banned as feed additive for animals in China

Results of a UK-China research collaboration have been pivotal to informing a ban by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture on use of antibiotic colistin as an animal feed additive in China.

Colistin is an important ‘last resort’ antibiotic, used to treat serious bacterial infections in humans resistant to other antibiotics. 

The work of a UK-China research team supported the ban, introduced in November 2016. In 2015 they identified a gene called MCR-1, allowing bacteria to survive colistin treatment in animals and humans in China. The team met with the Chinese Government to discuss the risks and impact of their discovery and Newton funding helped keep up the momentum of these discussions. 

In China, on average, a person takes 10 times the antibiotics consumed by a person in the US each year. The Independent Review on Antimicrobial Resistance calculated that, if not tackled, drug-resistant infections could kill an extra 10 million people across the world every year by 2050, over 1 million a year in China alone.

Collaboration with China is therefore vital in the global fight against anti-microbial resistance (AMR), and is a key part of our bilateral health cooperation. AMR is also a priority area for future Newton funding. 

This Newton Fund grant was awarded through the Newton Fund AMR-China Partnership Initiative, supported by the Medical Research Council (MRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.