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Milken researcher receives $3 million to study antibiotics in livestock

Hatchet File Photo
Faculty at the Milken Institute School of Public Health conducted a study on the Affordable Care Act that garnered national attention.

The public health school received a $3.1 million grant from a London-based biomedical charity to determine the effects of a California law limiting antibiotic use on livestock.

A research team from the Milken Institute School of Public Health will study the effects of including antibiotics in the diet of livestock using money from the charity Wellcome Trust, according to a press release Wednesday.

The research will examine the impact of a recent antibiotic-regulating law on quality of meat in the area. The law was implemented in California in January and prohibits antibiotics from being administered to livestock unless ordered by a veterinarian.

Lead researcher Lance Price, a professor of environmental and occupational health and the director of the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center, said farm animals – which account for approximately 70 percent of antibiotic use nationwide – play a large role in the drug’s excess use.

“Overuse of antibiotics contributes to antimicrobial resistance and is a growing threat to human health worldwide,” Price said in the release. “Research demonstrates clear links between antimicrobial use in poultry and human antibiotic-resistant infections.”

The new funding extends research already being conducted by Price and his team using a grant from the National Institutes of Health, according to the release. Cindy Liu, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health and a member of the research team, said the new study will examine more types of bacteria and look into all major meats.

“This is an important expansion of the NIH study that will allow us to more broadly sample the retail meat and poultry available to California consumers and therefore, more effectively study the impact the policy on antibiotic-resistant infections in California residents,” she said in the release.

Tim Jinks, the head of Wellcome’s drug-resistant infections priority program, said the excessive use of antibiotics – which is common in many countries – is linked to the spread of superbugs, or bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics.

“We need to build deeper global understanding of how these deadly, drug-resistant infections emerge and spread,” Jinks said in the release.

Price helped publish a list of recommendations about the overuse of antibiotics in a call for the Trump administration to take action in the fall.

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