An award-winning Oxford-based international project to tackle antibiotic resistance has achieved its one millionth classification.
BashTheBug is an initiative based in the University of Oxford’s Modernising Medical Microbiology Group at the John Radcliffe Hospital and supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).
It is a global citizen science project, run on the Zooniverse platform, involving around 14,000 volunteers from all over the world that aims to help researchers determine which antibiotics, and at which doses, can be used to treat different strains tuberculosis.
TB is responsible for more deaths each year than any other infectious disease and recently strains that are resistant to the standard six-month treatment course have emerged.
Bash the Bug is part of the international CRyPTIC project, which is collecting samples of the bacterium that causes TB from up to 100,000 people globally over the next few years. Each sample of M. tuberculosis will have its whole genome sequenced and also its susceptibility to a panel of 14 different antibiotics tested.
Volunteers around the world test the samples and report their findings
Dr Philip Fowler, Senior Researcher at the NIHR Oxford BRC who leads the project, said: “We’ve reached the millionth classification much quicker than I expected. It is a sign of how exciting to be involved in a citizen science project like this, with each person making a small contribution to a larger, more powerful whole.
“Having thousands of volunteers participating has resulted in pleasingly consistent results, and through our talk boards, they give us instant invaluable feedback.”
Watch Philip Fowler give a talk about Bash the Bug (10 minutes).
He added: ““This is vital work for us to get a better understanding of TB and drug-resistance, and therefore a better diagnosis and treatment for the million so people affected by the disease around the world.”
To celebrate the million classifications, Dr Fowler has invited participants to send an image that represents them so that the project can create a photo mosaic.