University receives funding to tackle antimicrobial resistance

Posted Nov 4, 2015 by Tim Sandle
Loughborough University has received $750,000 of funding to explore the issue of bacterial resistance to antibiotics and to look for new candidate compounds to use as antimicrobials.
A scientist conducts research in a lab.
A scientist conducts research in a lab.
, AFP/File
The university has been awarded a special grant based on its previous history of research into antimicrobials. The grant, titled "Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance: An Interdisciplinary Approach" has been awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Loughborough University is a public research university located in the market town of Loughborough, Leicestershire, in the U.K.
The hunt for new antimicrobials is of great importance otherwise more people will die from bacterial infections that were once readily treatable with antibiotics and other antimicrobials. The reason for the rise in infections from pathogenic organisms is due to an increase in strains of certain bacteria that become resistant to an antimicrobial. Those at greatest risk are the young, the elderly, those are ill in hospital and the immune-compromised.
Diseases of most concern are: bloodstream infections (sepsis), diarrhoea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and gonorrhoea
The development of a bacterium to an antimicrobial means that an alternative antimicrobial needs to be sourced. Often these antimicrobials are of greater potency (as well as having different mechanisms of action) and these carry greater side-effects to patients. In the most serious cases, pathogens are resistant to more than one antimicrobial (what are termed ‘multi-drug resistant’ bacteria.)
Antimicrobials include a group of compounds called antibiotics. Strictly, antibiotic refers to a compound taken from one microorganism to inhibit the growth of another. An example is with penicillin, which is a by-product of the fungal genus Penicillium, active against bacteria like those from the genus Staphylococcus. Most antimicrobials these days are synthetically produced drugs.
Speaking with Pharmaceutical Processing magazine, Dr Danish Malik, who heads up the department in receipt of the grant, explained that the money will be used to “understand and explore mitigation strategies that relate to how the environment and human behavior in community and healthcare settings enables the spread of resistance genes, and the acquisition and transmission of antimicrobial resistant infectious agents.”
While the grant to Loughborough University is an important part of the process to find new antimicrobial compounds, more research is required. Readers who would like to know more about this and the implications can read a special Digital Journal report “What is being done about antibiotic resistance?”