Uppsala University discover new drugs to fight antibiotic resistance

Scientists at Uppsala University have made a groundbreaking drug discovery that may be crucial in the fight against antibiotic resistance.

Their research, published in the journal PNAS, unveils a new class of antibiotics exhibiting potent activity against multi-drug resistant bacteria.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), resistance to antimicrobials, such as antibiotics, was directly responsible for 1.27 million global deaths in 2019 and contributed to 4.95 million deaths, highlighting the importance of this new research.

Antibiotics: A foundation of modern medicine

Antibiotics have been a cornerstone of modern medicine, revolutionising healthcare and saving countless lives over the past century.

However, with the widespread use of antibiotics, the rise of antibiotic resistance poses a significant threat to global health.

To combat the growing challenge of antibiotic resistance, the development of novel antibiotics is imperative.

The researchers at Uppsala University have risen to this challenge by unveiling a promising new class of antibiotics.

Targeting critical pathways

This new class of antibiotics targets a crucial protein, LpxH, utilised by Gram-negative bacteria to synthesise their outer protective layer, lipopolysaccharide.

Gram-negative bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae are among those identified by the WHO as requiring urgent attention due to their resistance to existing antibiotics.

Excitingly, the researchers demonstrated the efficacy of this new antibiotic class in treating bloodstream infections in mouse models. The results offer hope for combating multi-drug-resistant bacteria in clinical settings.

Overcoming pre-existing antibiotic resistance

Unlike existing antibiotic classes, this novel compound targets a protein with no pre-existing resistance, providing a significant advantage in the battle against antibiotic resistance.

The discovery and development of this new antibiotic class were made possible through collaborative efforts supported by the EU project ENABLE, funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative’s New Drugs 4 Bad Bugs program (ND4BB).

Led by researchers at Uppsala University and GlaxoSmithKline, ENABLE brought together experts from academia and pharmaceutical companies across Europe to advance early-stage antibiotic development.

Future research targets

The promising results pave the way for further development of this antibiotic class in the follow-on project, ENABLE-2.

Funded by the Swedish Research Council, the National Research Programme on Antibiotic Resistance, and Sweden’s innovation agency Vinnova, ENABLE-2 aims to continue the momentum in antibiotic drug discovery initiated by the original ENABLE project.

The discovery of this new class of antibiotics represents a significant breakthrough in the fight against antibiotic resistance, offering hope for developing effective treatments against multi-drug-resistant bacteria.


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