Drug 'shield' helps target antibiotic resistant bacteria

July 7, 2011

A new technique which targets antibiotic-resistant bacteria and shields patients from the toxic parts of an antibiotic drug has been developed by Cardiff University scientists.

Dr Elaine Ferguson from Cardiff University's School of Dentistry has utilised a new technique which attaches tiny nano-sized to the antibiotic drug - colistin.

Use of the drug colistin to fight infection has been limited as it is known to be toxic to the kidneys and nerves despite the fact that it has been found to be effective against new multi-drug resistant bacteria, like NDM-1.

Cardiff University scientists believe the new technique will help under-used like colistin to be used to fight against the spread of life-threatening bacterial infections.

"The technology we've developed came as a direct response to an urgent medical need for better antibiotics to safely treat patients with life threatening infections. Very few new have emerged despite intensive research, with only two new classes of antibiotics developed in the last 30 years," according to Dr Ferguson who worked alongside Cardiff University's Professor David Thomas and Professor Timothy Walsh to develop the technique.

"Our new approach allows existing effective therapies to be improved to help patients with severe infections who may otherwise suffer significant side effects after treatment.

"The polymer shields the drug molecule making it less toxic to the body while, at sites of infection, there is an enzyme present which removes the polymer- specifically activating the drug where it is needed" she added.

The research was supported by The Severnside Alliance for Translational Research (SARTRE) - a major collaboration between Cardiff and Bristol Universities designed to translate medical research to improve lives.

The seedcorn funding for the research from SARTRE, through the Medical Research Council's Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme, helped the project progress quickly to the stage where additional grant funding has been secured.

Ernest Azzopardi, a plastic surgeon studying for his PhD with the group, has also been awarded a Welsh Clinical Academic Training Fellowship and a grant from the EU European Social Fund to continue the work initiated with the seedcorn funding. The team includes materials scientists Dr Peter Griffiths from Cardiff University's School of Chemistry and Professor Terence Cosgrove from the University of Bristol, who have recently secured funding with Dr Ferguson to undertake neutron scattering at the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble (France).

Professor David Thomas, who worked alongside Dr Ferguson on developing the new technique, added: "The interdisciplinary nature of our work in drug delivery allows the possibility of developing truly innovative approaches to the management of human disease".

Explore further: Old is new again: Study determines dosing for 1950s drug now being used to treat drug-resistant infections

Related Stories

Early warning signs

June 1, 2011

A unique monitoring system offering healthcare providers an early warning system to accurately predict and aid management of one of the most common and painful infections has been developed by University scientists.

Recommended for you

As cells age, the fat content within them shifts

January 19, 2017

As cells age and stop dividing, their fat content changes, along with the way they produce and break down fat and other molecules classified as lipids, according to a new University at Buffalo study.

What causes sleepiness when sickness strikes

January 19, 2017

It's well known that humans and other animals are fatigued and sleepy when sick, but it's a microscopic roundworm that's providing an explanation of how that occurs, according to a study from researchers at the Perelman School ...

Soft robot helps the heart beat

January 18, 2017

Harvard University and Boston Children's Hospital researchers have developed a customizable soft robot that fits around a heart and helps it beat, potentially opening new treatment options for people suffering from heart ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.