Published: 12-11-2008 00:00 | Updated: 26-11-2013 10:29

FP7 funds initiative against "superbugs"

Scientists in Sweden, Great Britain and Germany have been awarded a 4.6 million Euro grant from the European Union to develop new anti-infective drugs to fight bacterial that are resistant to common antibiotics. The project AEROPATH is coordinated by the University of Dundee. Participating scientists in Sweden are affiliated to Karolinska Institutet.

The project aims to find new drugs to combat bacterial infections caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria, often called "superbugs". These bacterial spices are a particular problem for people suffering from cystic fibrosis, for burns victims, and patients whose immune system's ability to fight infectious disease is compromised, for example by chemotherapy during cancer treatment.

The project is particularly focused on the pathogen Pseudomonas aeroginosa. However the research is also designed to impact on other multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogens and hospital superbugs such as Stenotrophomonas and Acinetobacter species. Using an imaging method, called single crystal diffraction, the researchers will be able to build accurate three-dimensional models of the proteins which are essential for the bacteria to live. From these structures, scientists can then develop targets for chemicals which can bind to the proteins, disrupt a biological reaction and in so doing kill the bacteria.

Besides the University of Dundee and Karolinska Institutet the research partnership also includes the University of St Andrews and two German-based biotech companies, Lionex and MFD Diagnostics. The project will fund eight new posts for post-doctoral researchers across the partner institutions. It is funded by the European Union, through the EU Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) for research and innovation, and Scottish Funding Council.

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