Prevention, Antimicrobial (Drug) Resistance

NIAID supports basic, translational and clinical research on ways to prevent serious drug-resistant infections, including vaccines, monoclonal antibody therapies, and compounds that modulate innate immunity. NIAID also supports research on antibacterial resistance stewardship and infection control strategies.

Vaccines and Immune-Based Interventions

Vaccines for bacterial infections are urgently needed. Vaccines could be used to mitigate symptoms and disease progression, or to prevent infection or reduce colonization. For example, NIAID is supporting research on vaccine targets for N. gonorrhoeae, how the bacteria cause disease and how our immune systems respond to it. NIAID also is funding the Sexually Transmitted Infections Cooperative Research Centers which aim to develop vaccines against gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis.  

In 2019, NIAID established the Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Consortium, a clinical trials network that encompasses the Institute’s long-standing Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units (VTEUs). The consortium leadership group will prioritize candidate vaccines and other interventions to test in clinical trials. 

NIAID scientists also are developing a potential immunotherapy approach for the treatment of multidrug-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae infections. While antibiotics target bacterial pathogens, immunotherapy approaches enhance the immune system’s ability to fight specific bacteria. NIAID’s Antibacterial Resistance Leadership Group (ARLG) also has evaluated investigational antibody-based therapies aimed at preventing potentially antibiotic-resistant infections. 

Antimicrobial Stewardship and Infection Control Strategies

Effectively controlling the spread of antimicrobial resistant bacteria can help prevent infections. Certain types of bacteria can spread through the food supply, animals, and the environment (e.g. water). In healthcare facilities, specialized infection control procedures, including best practices for using medical devices such as central venous catheters, can help reduce transmission of harmful bacteria. NIAID is supporting research on further improving infection control techniques. Prior research has indicated that decolonization strategies (removing skin-surface bacteria that are normally harmless, but that may enter the bloodstream following surgery or other procedures and cause infection, including life-threatening sepsis) can benefit patients in intensive care units. An NIAID-supported study found that decolonization through daily bathing with chlorhexidine, a type of antiseptic soap, benefitted patients with medical devices.

Content last reviewed on