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Fast tracking drug discovery

The challenge

Developing new drugs is expensive and time-consuming. Improved understanding of how antibiotic structure affects their function, destroying microbe cells, would aid development.

Furthermore, as well as being hampered by antimicrobial resistance, drugs may be less effective if administered by mouth, as they can be degraded by stomach acids.

A means of drug delivery which avoided the stomach would contribute to more effective antibiotics.

The solution

We worked on a project funded by the European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP), that revealed information about the relationship between bio-molecular structure and function.

For the first time ever, using high-resolution spectroscopy, this project successfully showed how and where an antibiotic attaches to a microbe's cell membrane. How a bacterial cell and an antibiotic interact is key to the antibiotic's effectiveness in destroying the microbe.

From this, a new template-based computer model was developed that can accurately identify potential new antimicrobial drugs.

The impact

A team based at Oxford University's Biochemistry department, in collaboration with Malvern Cosmeceutics Ltd, are applying the results of the project to identify new drug compounds which can be delivered through the skin, bypassing the degradative effects of stomach acid.

Candidate compounds have also been matched to the requirements for delivery via Malvern Cosmeceutics' innovative Lipodisq® advanced skin penetration system. Funding for clinical trials is currently being sought to test this novel skin-based drug-delivery technology.

As antimicrobial drug resistance increases and the number of antibiotics capable of treating many infections decreases, cost-effective methods are needed to both narrow and accelerate the search for replacement drugs. This project's new drug development template will accelerate the identification of new and urgently needed drugs, to fight the ever increasing number of drug-resistant diseases.

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