New antibiotic approved for drug-resistant infections

June 27, 2018, Wellcome Trust
Urinary tract infections are caused by Enterobacteriaceae, such as E. Coli Credit: Carolina Biological Supply Company

A new antibiotic, developed with support from Wellcome, has been approved for patient use in the US.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of plazomicin (opens in a new tab) (brand name ZEMDRI) for the treatment of complicated, drug-resistant urinary tract infections.

Wellcome supported development of the new medicine, including £8.1m funding for pre-clinical research and Phase 2 development.

The rapid rise and spread of untreatable superbugs is a serious and global health threat, currently killing around 700,000 people a year globally.

Dr. Tim Jinks, Head of Wellcome's Drug-Resistant Infections Programme said: "This new antibiotic will be a vital last-resort treatment for patients with complicated and life-threatening . As with any new antibiotic, ensuring appropriate use is essential.

"Developing new treatments is a key part of the global effort against superbugs – but it is complex, costly and challenging. It has taken more than a decade to get this medicine from promising laboratory research to a safe, approved medicine for patients."

Plazomicin is not a new class of , but has been developed to treat infections caused by drug-resistant Enterobacteriaceae – a Gram-negative bacteria identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as one of the three superbugs that are most difficult to treat (opens in a new tab).

No approved antibiotic drug class has been discovered since 1980. Of even greater concern is the fact that no new class of antibiotics has been discovered to treat Gram-negative bacteria since 1962. These bacteria include most of the superbugs that the WHO consider the greatest threat to human health.

Wellcome's support and funding for plazomicin's development was provided by our Innovations team, and is part of our wider, ongoing programme to address drug-resistant infections globally.

Explore further: Understanding drug-resistant superbugs

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