UK-China collaboration to develop superbug treatments

Pictured: Staphylococcus bacteria can develop resistance which the project aims to combat. Source: Wikipedia

By Holly Giles

Antibiotic resistant bacteria are among us and increasing every second. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are tolerant to antibiotics, meaning the drug no longer has the effect intended. These bacteria are causing havoc for the medical practice where previously successful medication no longer works and new drugs are needed. However, all is not lost; here in Cardiff researchers in the School of Dentistry have teamed up with Destiny Pharma and Tianjin Medical University to tackle the issue. They aim to develop drugs which can prevent, control, and eradicate superbugs without generating resistance.

As part of a £1.8 million project the team, led by Professor David Williams, will develop products created by Destiny Pharma to combat resistant bacteria. They will combine new compounds with existing antibiotics in a hope to restore the previous efficiency of the medication. Heading up the Cardiff team, Williams said: “The widespread emergence of antimicrobial resistance in recent years has highlighted the need for alternative and effective antimicrobial agents. We, therefore, feel that the XF drug platform from Destiny Pharma provides timely and significant tools in our armoury against antimicrobial resistance”. As hinted by Williams the need for such medication is growing, with 50% of prescribed antibiotics not being optimally effective due to resistance. This has an estimated cost of £20 billion to the NHS each year and its rate is exponentially growing.

The funding for the project comes from the UK-China Antimicrobial Resistance fund which was set up by Innovate and the Department of Health. Antibiotic resistance is a worldwide issue and neither country could carry out this research on their own. Neil Clark, from Destiny Pharma, said: “The funds awarded under the new UK-China collaboration, will help […] investigate the utility of our XF drug platform especially in the treatment of dermal and ocular infections. This collaboration may help us identify additional clinical candidates that are safe, effective and with a significantly reduced level of antimicrobial resistance.”

The project is still in its early phases but is very promising in the identification of new options for pharmaceutical companies and new hope in our fight against bacterial resistance. Until then, there are certain actions we can take to prevent the spread of resistance. Don’t take antibiotics when they’re not needed and if you do take them always make sure you complete the course; ultimately follow your doctor’s advice.

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