Fighting back against antimicrobial resistance

Published on 21 May 2024

Research from the School of Life Sciences hopes to accelerate the drug discovery process by providing key data that will aid in the design of new treatments to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that AMR is one of the top global public health and development threats. Therefore, it is essential to develop new antibiotics at pace. 

The latest work from the lab of Professor Ulrich Zachariae, from the Division of Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery, has focused on bacteria of the Gram-negative type, which make up 2/3 of the priority pathogens showing high to critical drug-resistance.

These bacteria’s cells are shielded from their surroundings -and from drugs - by two poorly penetrable membranes. Additionally, highly efficient multi-drug efflux systems shuttle entering drugs back out, which is the main factor in the intrinsic drug-resistance of Gram-negative bacteria. 

“By analysing vast drug assay datasets, we have been able to investigate the chemical principles of the few special molecules that escape multi-drug efflux pumps,” said Professor Zachariae, who worked with first author Dominik Gurvic on this study.

“We then focused on small modifications that can be made to drug candidates in order to maintain activity and evade efflux. 

“We hope our work will make it easier, and therefore less costly, to design antibacterial therapeutics in the future.”

This research has been published in the journal npj antimicrobials and resistance.

Story category Academic collaboration