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Yesterday, at the Royal Society of Biology’s Parliamentary Reception, it was announced that the use of bacteriophages as an alternative to antimicrobial drugs has been selected by the Commons Science and Technology Committee as the winning My Science Inquiry idea.AMI

The idea was presented to the Committee by Professor James Ebdon on behalf of Applied Microbiology International, one of RSB’s Member Organisations (MO).

The My Science Inquiry initiative called for the public to submit 200 word suggestions on what the Committee should investigate next. The Committee received over 90 ideas for new inquiries and selected six ideas to hear more about in person at a livestreamed session of the Committee on 19th October.

Announcing the chosen pitch, Stephen Metcalfe MP, chair of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, commented: “A huge thanks to everyone who took part, the range of subjects submitted was an incredible amount, so it was really difficult to narrow it down to just to one. But we are looking forward to hearing from experts in this field – well done James!”

A formal inquiry and call for evidence on bacteriophages will be launched during UK Parliament Week, which begins in the week commencing 14th November 2022.

Several submissions to the My Science Inquiry recommended the Committee investigate areas of artificial intelligence policy. The Committee notes in its Report that it agrees this is important topic and encourages all those who put forward an inquiry proposal to submit evidence to its inquiry into the governance of artificial intelligence.

Dr Mark Downs CBiol CSci FRSB, chief executive of RSB, said: “Antimicrobial resistance is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. New approaches and methods to tackle this enormous threat to human health are essential and it is fitting that bacteriophages are now seen, once again, as a potential tool to fight infection. 

“We commend the Science & Technology Committee for selecting this important area for their “My Science inquiry” and congratulate Professor Ebdon and Applied Microbiology International. We look forward to seeing the inquiry develop and hope that this will drive a new alternative in tackling antimicrobial resistance”

Professor James Ebdon, Professor of Environmental Microbiology, University of Brighton and Member of Applied Microbiology International, commented on the successful pitch: “We are delighted that the Science and Technology Committee selected our pitch on ‘The therapeutic use of bacteriophages (viruses capable of destroying bacteria)’ as the focus for an inquiry, as they offer a potentially powerful tool in the UK’s response to antimicrobial resistance.

“Pitching to the Committee was not only a fantastic and thoroughly enjoyable experience, but also a rare opportunity to potentially steer the gaze of MPs, parliament and Government towards novel and emerging areas of research.”