Current concern over the emergence of multidrug-resistant superbugs has renewed interest in approaches that can monitor existing trends in bacterial resistance and make predictions of future trends. Recent advances in bacterial surveillance and the development of online repositories of susceptibility tests across wide geographical areas provide an important new resource, yet there are only limited computational tools for its exploitation. Here we propose a hybrid computational model called BARDmaps for automated analysis of antibacterial susceptibility tests from surveillance records and for performing future predictions. BARDmaps was designed to include a structural computational model that can detect patterns among bacterial resistance changes as well as a behavioural computational model that can use the detected patterns to predict future changes in bacterial resistance. Data from the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network (EARS-Net) were used to validate and apply the model. BARDmaps was compared with standard curve-fitting approaches used in epidemiological research. Here we show that BARDmaps can reliably predict future trends in bacterial resistance across Europe. BARDmaps performed better than other curve-fitting approaches for predicting future resistance levels. In addition, BARDmaps was also able to detect abrupt changes in bacterial resistance in response to outbreaks and interventions as well as to compare bacterial behaviour across countries and drugs. In conclusion, BARDmaps is a reliable tool to automatically predict and analyse changes in bacterial resistance across Europe. We anticipate that BARDmaps will become an invaluable tool both for clinical providers and governmental agencies to help combat the threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Keywords: Antimicrobial resistance; Computational modelling; Resistance monitoring.