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LifeArc, Dstl and CDRD collaborate to identify antibacterial drug targets

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

LifeArc, the U.K. medical research charity previously known as MRC Technology, The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), announced a collaboration to identify antibacterial drug targets.

Antibiotic resistance is a major world-wide health problem that is threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases. A growing list of infections—such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, sepsis and gonorrhoea—are becoming harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat as antibiotics become less effective.

In a report published in Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, Professor Dame Sally Davies, UK Chief Medical Officer is quoted as saying, “We have reached a critical point and must act now on a global scale to slow down antimicrobial resistance.” In this same report it is predicted that by 2050 resistance to currently available antibiotics will prevent common medical procedures and operations from taking place, due to risk of bacterial infection. There is, therefore, a huge need to identify new targets and develop novel antibacterial agents to combat the rising problem of resistance.

To date, the majority of antibacterial drug discovery programs have focused on very specific aspects of resistance, or single pathogen species. This new collaborative project will take a more holistic approach, looking at commonality across pathogens to identify which genes or “targets” express proteins that lead to the production of multi-drug resistant bacteria, and are therefore the most promising from a biophysical and drug discovery based perspective. Once targets have been selected and scientifically validated, results will be openly published and the most promising targets will enter into drug discovery programs.

Justin Bryans, executive director, Drug Discovery at LifeArc, said: “LifeArc’s strategy is to create Communities for Impact (CfI) where we work in collaboration with cutting edge organisations such as Dstl and the CDRD, bringing together our diverse expertise and knowledge to tackle key issues in human health. The discovery of new antibacterial drugs is becoming increasingly urgent and we are excited by the potential for this collaboration, as each party brings a piece of the jigsaw to enable the CfI as a whole to make a real impact in this field.”

Professor Timothy Atkins, senior fellow at Dstl, commented: “To protect the armed forces and the civilian population against the threat of infectious disease we need to develop novel antimicrobials that are active against a broad spectrum of pathogens. To achieve this challenging goal we need to be working with scientists at the forefront of their respective disciplines, which is why we’re extremely enthusiastic about the prospect of working alongside LifeArc and CDRD to bring our individual expertise to bear on this globally important issue.”

Dr Edie Dullaghan, head of Target Validation, CDRD, said: “As Canada’s national drug development and commercialization centre, our goal is to enable the development of game-changing therapeutics to address some of the most pressing health issues of our time. To help mitigate this challenge of antibiotic resistance, we have assembled a multi-disciplinary team of microbiologists, medicinal chemists and bioinformatitions, and will be combining their expertise with that of our partners LifeArc and Dstl. By bringing our distinct perspectives and collective resources to bear, we are uniquely positioned to create an effective path forward for the discovery and development of novel antibacterial drugs.”

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