Spotlight on antibiotic resistance


Antibiotics save lives all around the world every day. But the growing problem of bacterial resistance is a serious public health threat. If we are not able to overcome the difficulties of developing new antibiotics and making sure that they are made available worldwide, antibiotic resistance will continue to be one of the greatest threats to healthcare across the globe.

Uppsala University has broad national and international transdisciplinary expertise in the area of antibiotic resistance. In addition to strong pure research in pharmaceuticals, microbiology and antibiotic resistance, the University also conducts internationally prominent research in areas such as diagnostics, new economic models, law, clinical research, ethics, global health, sustainable development, behaviour and learning. Several large EU-supported research projects in the field of antibiotics are being led by Uppsala University.

The ENABLE project was launched in February 2014 under the Innovative Medicines Initiatives (IMI) programme “New Drugs for Bad Bugs” (ND4BB), led by Uppsala University and pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. The goal of the six-year project is to develop antimicrobial drug candidates for testing in clinics, thus increasing the possibility of developing new antibiotics to treat infections caused by gram-negative bacteria. The consortium consists of 39 different partners from all over Europe, including representatives from academia, research institutes, small and mid-sized biotechnology companies and large pharmaceutical companies.

The DRIVE-AB consortium develops alternative economic models to create incentives for discovering and developing new antibiotics. Uppsala University is a partner and one of the leading institutions in DRIVE-AB. The public/private consortium is funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and is the only global research project developing and testing new, evidence-based and globally feasible reward models to stimulate investments in antibiotic research and development, coupled with provisions for sustainable use and equitable access to antibiotics.

The AIDA project is conducting a clinical study investigating the benefits of adding the antibiotic meropenem to treatment for patients with serious infections caused by meropenem-resistant bacteria and who are currently being treated with colistin, another bacteria. In preclinical studies, colistin has demonstrated the ability to affect the bacterial membrane, thus recreating resistant bacteria’s sensitivity to antibiotics. Using mathematical models (pharmacometrics), the variability between patients can be characterised to help establish individualised antibiotic dosing.

The Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance (JPIAMR) is an EU programme in which the member states contribute financing to create international partnerships aimed at solving important societal issues, such as antibiotic resistance. One project supported by the initiative aims at streamlining the development of antibiotic combinations and dosages that can overcome resistance and have a high probability of clinical efficacy. This project will run from 2016 to 2018. Two other projects scheduled to run from 2017 to 2019 will study mechanisms for the selection and transmission of resistant bacteria in humans and in the environment and investigate how to slow the development of resistance through combinations of antibiotics.

There are several other projects and networks at Uppsala University aimed at finding solutions to the growing problems associated with antibacterial resistance.

ReAct is an Uppsala-based international network that has been an key global actor in forming views and approaches to the development of new antibiotics. ReAct works with antibiotic resistance from a health system perspective. The network cooperates to build up a new business model, in which the public and private sectors work together to solve the scientific difficulties while creating innovative incentives – both financial and otherwise. ReAct demonstrates that it is not only research on antibiotic resistance that is strong in Uppsala, but also dissemination of information and public opinion forming.

Uppsala Antibiotic Center (UAC) is a new centre for research, education and innovation aimed at tackling and finding solutions to the global antibiotic resistance challenge. UAC will conduct interdisciplinary research and provide education on antibiotic resistance by involving all three Disciplinary Domains at Uppsala University. UAC is being launched in autumn 2016 and since 2017, 14 interdisciplinary doctoral projects at Uppsala University are conducted.

10 November 2017