Research to help fight antibiotic resistance
20 June 2017 - Mark Dorey
A Leeds Beckett academic is working to fight antibiotic resistance, following a prestigious innovation grant.
Dr John George, Senior Lecturer in the School of Clinical and Applied Sciences at Leeds Beckett, is Chief Scientific Officer of biopharmaceutical company, Oppilotech Ltd, who have been awarded an Innovate UK feasibility award. These awards are designed to test critical ideas aimed at progressing UK technologies to market.
Dr George explained: “Oppilotech are delighted to win this award as it gives us a chance to test our novel approach at treating the important pathogen MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus). This organism is responsible for 23,000 deaths a year in the USA alone and the associated economic and healthcare burden is significant.”
MRSA is difficult to treat as it can be resistant to many established antibiotics. Oppilotech’s approach is novel in that it attempts to re-sensitise the pathogen to the drugs that it is resistant to. This, if successful, would open up the possibility of using the many established but obsolete drugs to treat MRSA infections in an out-patient setting. Dr George added: “You can think of MRSA as a space ship which protects itself from attack by using shields. We may have found a way to switch off these defensive shields which then expose them to attack with traditional antibiotics.”
Antimicrobial resistance is a key research theme within the Centre for Biomedical Science Research at Leeds Beckett. Director of the Centre, Professor Gary Jones, said: “John and Oppilotech’s success in securing this highly competitive Innovate UK feasibility grant, in addition to recent funding awarded through the CARB-X scheme, clearly demonstrates the excellence of the science underpinning the research. The novel approach being taken has the potential for making significant impact in the field of antimicrobial resistance.”
The study which is to last six months and cost £200,000 is to focus on testing the novel agent in a series of efficacy studies. If the results are encouraging it will represent a significant step towards clinical trials.
About Oppilotech Ltd
Oppilotech is focused on the development of safe antibacterial compounds against drug resistant organisms. To develop these compounds, Oppilotech has built the most detailed, accurate, computational network model of bacterial cell envelope (LPS, peptidoglycan & phospholipids components) biogenesis that has ever been assembled. This approach allows us to identify viable targets. The model has already led to two early stage drug discovery programs that the company intends to develop to the clinic.
CARB-X is the world’s largest public-private partnership devoted to antibacterial preclinical R&D. CARB-X focuses on high priority drug-resistant bacteria, especially Gram-negatives. CARB-X is a charitable global public-private partnership led by Boston University School of Law. Other partners include the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, MassBio, the California Life Sciences Institute and RTI International. For more information, please visit www.carb-x.org and follow us on Twitter @CARB_X