Antibiotic Research UK will announce at its Annual General meeting its first research programme to tackle antibiotic resistant bacteria (superbugs). Superbugs are becoming an increasing problem in hospitals as bacteria become more and more resistant to our existing antibiotics. The Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies recently said that if we don’t tackle the problem now our grandchildren will not thank us. All the medical procedures we currently take for granted such as cancer treatment, open heart surgery, hip and knee replacement and organ transplantation will become much more risky. Ashley Burgess, the chairman of the charity said ‘we should be afraid since so many of us rely on antibiotics working’.
The research programme, which requires the charity to raise £120,000, will focus on an under-researched area of finding drugs that can break antibiotic resistance allowing the life of our current antibiotics to be extended. Some 2000 existing drugs used to treat any disease will be tested as Antibiotic Resistance Breakers to see if any of them can work alongside the antibiotic to break resistance.
Professor Garner, the charity’s Chief Executive, said ‘this is an exciting opportunity to look at drugs such as those used for heart disease, arthritis, psychiatric disorders etc. to see if they when put together with an antibiotic can kill superbugs. The advantage of the approach is that it is faster and cheaper than trying to find a new antibiotic from scratch. We need the public to help us fund this programme, which we anticipate will start in early 2016’.
The charity, with some of the UK’s top antibiotic resistance researchers behind it, aims to develop its first new antibiotic therapy by the early 2020’s. The charity hopes to help in filling the hole left by many of the big pharmaceutical companies who have withdrawn from antibiotic drug development. The charity needs to raise up to £30 million on the next 5–7 years, through a combination of traditional fundraising, corporate sponsorship, giving by trusts and foundations as well as newer fundraising methods such as crowd funding over the next five years.