Research in Focus: A New Class of Antibiotics
As part of #BiofilmWeek, we’re highlighting interesting and exciting biofilm research from across our network and partner research institutions by early career researchers and PhD students.
We interviewed Anish Parmar, a Post Doctorate Research Associate at the University of Liverpool. Anish conducts research on the creation and optimisation of antibiotics, under the supervision of Dr Ishwar Singh.
What problems does your research work to address?
By 2050, without further antibiotic development, AMR will cause mortality to more people than cancer. This translates to 10 million deaths per year and will have profound health and economic consequences ($100 trillion, AMR review 2016, UK Government).
MDR-pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Enterococcus spp. (vancomycin-resistant enterococci, VRE) are on the WHO and CDC high-priority AMR list because of decreasing or limited treatment options and increasing morbidity, and mortality in patients by these pathogens. In 2019 alone, MRSA caused >100,000 deaths and 3.5 million disability-adjusted life-years.
Nearly all antibiotics in the clinic have resistance problems, and existing antibiotics are failing.
We have developed a new class of antibiotics that combat multi-drug resistance (MDR) bacterial infections without detectable resistance. These antibiotics effectively target highly conserved bacterial-specific lipids, offering a multi-pronged approach against MDR bacterial pathogens. We proudly offer a remarkable 4000-fold reduction in costs compared to natural molecules, facilitated by an automated high-yielding (40%) synthesis. Furthermore, our antibiotics have exhibited good tolerability in mice, with dosing at 50-150mg/kg every 8 hours for 24 hours.
Mechanism of action of antibiotic forming antiparallel β-sheets (blue) bound to bacterial Lipid II (yellow and pink). image courtesy Professor Markus Weingarth.
Our antibiotics would address this urgent clinical need, especially to treat infections arising from MDR Gram-positive pathogens such as MRSA.
Are there any highlights from your work you can tell us about?
We have developed and tested a unique library of our analogues, optimising key features of the drug to enhance its efficacy and safety, making it possible to be produced at scale.
Have you undertaken any public engagement and outreach activities?
Recently, our work has garnered some media attention, leading schools to approach us for week-long work experiences. We have hosted two students who delved into the world of antibiotics and the pressing issue of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). They gained insight into the instruments and techniques we employ for synthesis and development, which in turn helped them shape their career paths.
Has NBIC supported you with any of your projects or in your career?
I participated in the NBIC funded Biofilms ICURe Sprint, with SETsquared during phase 1, to seek market validation for our technology. The project received positive feedback during the options roundabout panel, leading to a successful pitch and recommendation for a spinout. The progress carried over onto phase 2, where I acquired essential commercial skills including licensing, spinout, and negotiation. Upon completing the ICURe program, we pursued the recommended follow-on funding from Innovate UK, securing £300,000 to establish a spin-out. At present, we are on the verge of spinning out and actively pursuing further funding and collaboration opportunities. The journey from lab to clinic demands substantial time and financial resources. However, we are confident in our position and anticipate a timely spin-out to accelerate the commercialisation of our technology.
Find out more
If you are interested in learning more about this project and would like to connect with Anish, please contact NBIC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anish Parmar, Post Doctorate Research Associate at the University of Liverpool.