Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest threats to global human and animal health – the O’Neill Report earlier this year stated that, unless we take urgent action, it will be directly responsible for over 10 million deaths by 2050, more than deaths from cancer or deaths from diabetes, road traffic accidents and cholera combined.
A crucial part of the solution is to find new antibiotics to tackle bacterial infections and replace existing treatments which have become ineffective, often through overuse. Now the University of Dundee – one of the UK’s leading universities for biological sciences research - has been awarded a near £1million grant to boost efforts to find new drugs. The competitive award from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, will enable the University to create an Antibacterial Drug Discovery Accelerator and further build on the world-leading work carried out in its Drug Discovery Unit.
“This award will help us address one of the fundamental needs in tackling antimicrobial resistance – the creation of new antibacterial drugs,” said Professor Mike Ferguson, Regius Professor of Life Sciences at the University. “A crucial gap in the drug discovery process is in the early phase, translating discovery science innovation into `drug-leads’ that can then be developed for clinical trials and delivery to patients. “We have considerable infrastructure and expertise in drug discovery at Dundee. This award will enable us to build on that and significantly boost our work on bacterial diseases, where drug resistant infections are threatening all countries and adversely impacting the clinical management of patients.”
The grant will be spent on converting existing and appropriately located space into a medicinal chemistry laboratory that, together with existing infrastructure, will create the Antibacterial Drug Discovery Accelerator.
Professor Ian Gilbert is Head of Chemistry at the Drug Discovery Unit and leads the team who in 2015 announced the discovery of a compound with the potential to treat malaria. He said, “We already have a wide-ranging programme of anti-infectives drug discovery which is producing promising leads for diseases including malaria, leishmaniasis and tuberculosis. “This investment will significantly extend our activities in anti-bacterial drug discovery and bring us closer to finding new treatments for the many drug resistant bacterial pathogens that are spreading around the world.”
Image credit: Palmer Laboratory (School of Life Sciences) and Lewis Houghton (http://lewspics.com/).
Staphylococcus aureus on blood agar plates. One strain is haemolytic and the other not.