University gets £500k grant for superbug-killing antibiotic

Scientists at the University of Lincoln received a £500,000 grant for their new antibiotic, hailed as the “last line of defence” against superbugs.

Over the next year the university will develop a catalogue of simplified synthetic versions of a natural antibiotic called teixobactin.

It was dubbed as a “game changer” when it was discovered in 2015 because of its ability to kill drug resistant pathogens.

Scientists in Lincoln are working at replacing key amino acids in the antibiotics structure to make it more simple to recreate.

The creation of a new molecules to simplify teixobactin will form one of the key stages in the research project.

A £484,000 grant from the Department of Health and Social Care will involve a proof of concept trial with test subjects.

If those trials are successful, then it could lead to the antibiotic being used in hospitals as a new medicine fit for human use.

Dr Ishwar Singh is leading the project in collaboration with the University of Liverpool.

He said: “We know that the therapeutic potential of simplified synthetic teixobactin is immense, and our ultimate goal is to have a number of viable drugs.

“So far we have demonstrated that we can make synthetic versions which are as potent at treating drug-resistant pathogens as the real thing.

“But we now need to expand our catalogue of synthetic teixobactin as a precursor to production on a commercial scale.

“In drug development, there is a very high failure rate and pinning all hopes on one molecule could be risky.”

The work builds on the success of Dr Singh’s pioneering research to tackle antimicrobial resistance over the past three years.

It has been predicted that by 2050 an additional 10 million people will succumb to drug resistant infections each year.

Once developed, the teixobactin antibiotic will be the first new class of antibiotic drug in 30 years.