Tackling antibiotic resistance: free course and new research

Friday, 19 November, 2021

Tackling antibiotic resistance: free course and new research

CSIRO has partnered with deep-tech incubator Cicada Innovations to deliver a free, online commercialisation course to help build an emerging industry of products and solutions to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

AMR occurs when disease-causing bacteria, fungi and other germs no longer respond to medicines such as antibiotics. These drug-resistant ‘superbugs’ are on the rise globally and make infections harder to treat, increasing the risk of disease spread and severe illness and death in animals and humans. Dr Branwen Morgan, who is leading CSIRO’s developing Antimicrobial Resistance Mission, said new drugs alone will not solve the issue.

“The drug pipeline is long and costly — we need innovative science, technology and engineering solutions to mitigate AMR now and into the future,” Dr Morgan said.

“Potential solutions could range from antimicrobial coatings to integrated sensors and software that identifies the presence of AMR to alternative treatments and diagnostics.”

“We have partnered with Cicada Innovations to offer the AMR Commercialisation 101 course, that will equip innovators with the knowledge and skills to commercialise new products that can make a significant impact in tackling this growing problem.”

The course is open to SMEs and researchers regardless of experience in AMR, from any sector where technologies could be adapted to solve AMR challenges. Cicada Innovations CEO Sally-Ann Williams said the new course will cover an introduction to the AMR landscape, commercialising medical technologies, introduction to lean startup, idea and customer validation, and market analysis and competitive landscape.

“This course is a gateway for innovators looking to gain a foundational understanding of AMR and how to validate an idea and make an impact,” Williams said.

“We’re calling on industry, SMEs and innovators to register for the free course and take the first step in translating their ideas into a solution which can save lives.”

In a recent example of an innovative AMR project, researchers from EMBL Australia, Monash University and Harvard University found a way to increase the effectiveness of antibiotics, without clinicians having to resort to giving patients higher doses or relying on the discovery of new types of antibiotics. Their work was published in the journal Nature Communications.

During a bacterial infection, the body uses molecules called chemoattractants to recruit neutrophils — immune cells with the ability to encapsulate and kill dangerous bacteria — to the site of the infection. Researchers attached a chemoattractant to an antibiotic, enabling them to enhance the recruitment of immune cells and improve their killing ability. The researchers linked a chemoattractant known as formyl peptide to vancomycin — a commonly used antibiotic that binds to the surface of the bacteria — and performed their studies on golden staph infections, one of the more problematic antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

“We’ve been working on using dual-function antibiotic–chemoattractant ‘hybrids’, which improve the recruitment of neutrophils and increase the engulfing and killing of the bacteria,” said Dr Jennifer Payne, lead researcher from EMBL Australia and the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute.

“By stimulating our powerful immune system in this way with the immunotherapeutic antibiotic, we’ve shown in mouse models that the treatment is twofold more effective than just using the antibiotic alone, at one-fifth lower dose,” added Associate Professor Max Cryle, an EMBL Australia Group Leader at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute.

The work has resulted in a patent covering the immunotherapeutic, with the IP owned by Monash University. Partners are now being sought to continue this research into clinical trials, with the potential of developing a preventative antibiotic strategy in the intensive care environment.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Sasa Komlen

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