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The project website shows volunteers images of a series of small, circular wells, each containing M.tuberculosis (the bug that causes TB) and a different dose of an antibiotic. The users are then asked to identify in which wells the bacteria have grown, helping the researchers to determine which antibiotics are effective at killing each specific strain of TB.
Dr Philip Fowler, the lead researcher on the online BashTheBug project at the Nuffield Department of Medicine, said: 'Antibiotic resistance is a global threat, and accurately and rapidly diagnosing drug-resistant disease places a huge strain on hospital laboratories.
'Knowing which antibiotics are effective against a particular bacterial infection is crucial for effectively treating a patient, whilst also limiting the opportunity for the bug to develop antibiotic-resistance and/or to be passed onto other people.
'Cultivating and examining TB plates is a time-consuming process, but by enlisting extra help online we hope to examine over 40 million images, something we could never do on our own.'