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Case studies

Supporting the UK biotechnology industry

The challenge

It is estimated that approximately 700,000 deaths worldwide are due to antimicrobial resistance each year. Unless action is taken to address this, the number is projected to rise to 10 million lives each year by 2050. The UK biotechnology industry has the capability to produce new antimicrobial products, but with so much data available, this could potentially happen much faster.

The solution

We are working with partners including biotech company Ingenza and Plymouth University looking specifically at epidermicins, a class of bacteriocins (naturally-occurring toxins produced by bacteria to kill other, closely-related strains), which were recently discovered by researchers. If a systematic approach can be found to adapt bacteriocins into more broadly effective or even more potent antibiotics, these molecules could challenge the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

Working with partners, we are using artificial intelligence tools developed in collaboration with IBM and the Science and Technology Facilities Council's (STFC) Hartree Centre, which, together with our own experimental validation, will enhance the performance of selected bacteriocins in terms of their range of action, stability and potency.

The impact

The goal is to generate a pipeline of candidate molecules with the maximum therapeutic response while minimising any potential side effects. Within the same project, the team will also apply and further enhance Ingenza's highly-efficient manufacturing platform to scale up production of each promising new antimicrobial candidate for further testing and clinical trials. Ultimately, we aim to develop a discovery and production platform for a new family of antibiotics.

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NPL’s biometrology expertise provides crucial support for the UK biotechnology industry, placing us in an excellent position to accelerate antimicrobial discovery and manufacture

Ian Fotheringham - Managing Director of Ingenza