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News Alert

EU-funded research projects discover new antibiotics against resistant bacterial infections

Brussels, 7 April 2011

This year's World Health Day focuses on the growing threat of potentially deadly infections developing resistance to antimicrobial drugs – especially to antibiotics. On this occasion, the European Commission is presenting the promising results of two EU-funded international research projects which provide new hopes to help and treat people. In the European Union alone, it is estimated that drug resistant infections cause more than 25,000 deaths and €1.5 billion in extra healthcare costs every year.

A new substance to tackle drug resistant tuberculosis

The project NM4TB, which gathers 18 research teams from 13 countries, discovered a novel class of substances, called benzothiazinones (BTZ), that could be used in the treatment of tuberculosis and drug resistant tuberculosis. These substances act by preventing the bacteria that cause tuberculosis from constructing their cell wall. This discovery represents an important breakthrough in the battle against tuberculosis as the most advanced compound of this new class, BTZ043, is also effective against extensively drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB).

Exploiting genetic resources to find new antibiotics

18 research teams from 9 European countries and the Republic of Korea joined forces in the project ActinoGEN to discover and develop new antibiotics by exploiting the genetic resources of a group of bacteria called actinomycetes. Previous studies on the genomes of actinomycetes suggested that these bacteria had the potential to produce many new antibiotics. The researchers identified one entirely novel lead antibiotic by exploring the bacterial species Streptomyces ambofaciens, and engineered additional antibiotics by combinatorial biosynthesis. The project has generated 8 patents.

Background

A wide array of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, protozoa and fungi, are becoming resistant to drugs that are used to treat infections. This resistance, which is called antimicrobial resistance (AMR), is a major obstacle to the treatment of infectious diseases worldwide. Faced with the extent of AMR, and the dwindling number of effective antimicrobial drugs, the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that it considers AMR to be one of the greatest threats to human health.

Tackling AMR requires investing in research and innovation. The EU has prioritised research in this field, supporting numerous research projects with a total amount of approximately €300 million since 1999. Priorities include developing novel medicines and therapies, defining the optimal use of existing antimicrobial drugs, developing diagnostic tools, monitoring the spread of resistance and basic research on pathogenic organisms.  EU-funded projects have helped to better understand resistance mechanisms and to identify novel antimicrobial compounds that may lead to future drugs. 

For more information, please contact Charlotte Gugenheim (charlotte.gugenheim@ec.europa.eu), Communication Officer, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission.

Links

Press release: World Health Day: fight against antimicrobial resistance must continue on a global scale

EU research on antimicrobial resistance

EU projects NM4TB and ActinoGEN
Project NM4TB (New Medicines for Tuberculosis)
ActinoGEN (Integrating Genomics-Based Applications to Exploit Actinomycetes as a Resource for New Antibiotics)

Brochure - EU-funded research on AMR from 2007 to 2010
http://ec.europa.eu/research/health/infectious-diseases/antimicrobial-drug-resistance/pdf/eu-research-on-antimicrobial-resistance_en.pdf

Information on AMR
http://ec.europa.eu/health/antimicrobial_resistance/policy/index_en.htm
http://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/healthtopics/antimicrobial_resistance/Pages/index.aspx

World health Day
http://www.who.int/world-health-day/2011/en/index.html

 

Annex – Details of the project

NM4TB
Start date: 01/01/2006
End date: 30/06/2011
Project cost: €12.88 million
EU contribution: €11.07 million
Coordinator: Prof. Stewart Cole, Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne, Email: stewart.cole@epfl.ch
Participants:

ECOLE POLYTECHNIQUE FEDERALE DE LAUSANNE

Country: SWITZERLAND

LEIBNIZ INSTITUT FUR NATURSTOFF-FORSCHUNG UND INFEKTIONSBIOLOGIE E.V.HANS-KNOLL-INSTITUT

Country: GERMANY

ASTRA ZENECA INDIA PVT LTD

Country: INDIA

THE CHANCELLOR, MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE

Country: UNITED KINGDOM

COUNCIL FOR SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH

Country: SOUTH AFRICA

A.N. BAKH INSTITUTE OF BIOCHEMISTRY OF THE RUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

Country: RUSSIAN FEDERATION

UNIVERSITA DEGLI STUDI DI PAVIA

Country: ITALY

INSTITUT PASTEUR

Country: FRANCE

ASTRAZENECA

Country: UNITED KINGDOM

CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE

Country: FRANCE

ST GEORGE'S HOSPITAL MEDICAL SCHOOL

Country: UNITED KINGDOM

NEED PHARMACEUTICALS

Country: ITALY

ASTEX THERAPEUTICS LIMITED

Country: UNITED KINGDOM

UNIVERSITY OF ZURICH

Country: SWITZERLAND

COMENIUS UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF NATURAL SCIENCES

Country: SLOVAKIA

UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER

Country: UNITED KINGDOM

STATENS SERUM INSTITUT

Country: DENMARK

QUEEN MARY & WESTFIELD COLLEGE

Country: UNITED KINGDOM

UPPSALA UNIVERSITET

Country: SWEDEN

VICHEM CHEMIE RESEARCH LTD.

Country: HUNGARY

 

ActinoGEN
Start date: 01/01/2005
End date: 31/12/2009
Project Cost: €11.35 million
EU contribution: €9.38 million
Coordinator: Prof. Paul Dyson, University of Wales Swansea, Email: p.j.dyson@swansea.ac.uk
Participants:

UNIVERSITY OF WALES, SWANSEA

Country: UNITED KINGDOM

UNIVERSITE PARIS-SUD

Country: FRANCE

EBERHARD KARLS-UNIVERSITÄT TÜBINGEN

Country: GERMANY

LIBRAGEN

Country: FRANCE

INSTITUTE OF BIOTECHNOLOGY OF LEÓN

Country: SPAIN

UNIVERSIDAD DE OVIEDO

Country: SPAIN

ENTRECHEM SL

Country: SPAIN

TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITAET BERLIN

Country: GERMANY

RIJKSUNIVERSITEIT GRONINGEN

Country: NETHERLANDS

DIPARTIMENTO DI BIOLOGIA CELLULARE E DELLO SVILUPPO, UNIVERSITA DI PALERMO

Country: ITALY

UNIVERSITY OF SURREY

Country: UNITED KINGDOM

UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK

Country: UNITED KINGDOM

INSTITUTE OF MICROBIOLOGY, ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC

Country: CZECH REPUBLIC

JOHN INNES CENTRE

Country: UNITED KINGDOM

TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF DENMARK

Country: DENMARK

THE UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER

Country: UNITED KINGDOM

SEOUL NATIONAL UNIVERSITY

Country: KOREA, REPUBLIC OF

INSTITUT NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE AGRONOMIQUE

Country: FRANCE