Research Profile

Friday, 13 April 2018

Material progress on Drug Resistant Infections

The O’Neill Review on AntiMicrobial Resistance has led to new initiatives on the development of new diagnostics and drugs along with calls for improved stewardship and global surveillance and a reminder of the importance of good hygiene!  

Wellcome has a long standing commitment to the challenge of drug resistant infections and has recently made this a priority for sustained support. This has led to a number of exciting new partnerships to support global efforts to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

Wellcome's Innovations team has over the last decade supported a variety of drug discovery projects for the development of new antibiotics. For example Summit Therapeutics have  developed a novel antibiotic, Ridinilazole which in clinical trials has shown to offer some improvements over Vancomycin for treatment of drug resistant Clostridium Difficile infection.

Wellcome also supported the company Achaogen who have developed a novel amino glycoside antibiotic, Plazomycin for the treatment of complicated urinary tract infections (cUTIs), including pyelonephritis, and bloodstream infections due to Enterobacteriaceae. 

We also like to explore alternatives to conventional drug approaches. We are delighted to see the recent progress to prevent catheter acquired urinary tract infections (UTIs) using novel materials. The team - led by Wellcome Trust Senior Investigators Morgan Alexander and Paul Williams at the University of Nottingham - used high throughput materials discovery to identify promising new coatings for catheters. Working with a company Camstent they have just received a CE marking for a new catheter - and this device will be trialled in 6 hospitals across the UK.

These promising developments can give us room for optimism - with a real possibility of new interventions in the next year or two...but we know that they are a result of decades of painstaking research and development. We also know that its only a matter of time before resistance emerges. So however promising the pipeline looks now, we must plan for the future, by continuing to pump support into research and development for the very long term.  

Paul Ehrlich, inventor of Salvarsan, one of the first antibiotics ever developed - coined the phrase “magic bullet”.  But there is no magic solution to Drug Resistant Infection - and its not going away any time soon.

But there is science, there is technology and there is human creativity. So with a concerted effort and a willingness to try new approaches, we can be better prepared to face of the complex challenge of Drug Resistant Infections.  

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