Antibiotic resistance

Every day, antibiotics save many lives all over the world. They have become indispensable in all kinds of situations, from basic healthcare to advanced medicine. But what will happen if antibiotics stop working? Developing new, globally available antibiotics is not just a public health issue; it is also a critical factor for our globalised society.

Antibiotic resistance is a rapidly growing problem. In the EU alone, 33,000 people die every year because of infectious diseases against which antibiotics and other anti-infection pharmaceuticals are no longer effective. Sooner or later, bacteria develop resistance to all antibiotics, which means it is necessary continuously to develop new pharmaceutical products. There is a great and urgent need to stimulate research that can identify completely new antibacterial substances and to come up with alternative modes of antibacterial pharmaceutical development, as well as to find new means to spread knowledge about antibiotics and their use globally.

In addition to strong basic research in pharmaceutical development, microbiology and antibiotic resistance, the University conducts internationally outstanding research on diagnostics, new financial models, law, clinical research, ethics, global health, sustainable development, behaviour and learning.

Current news in antibiotic resistance

Petri dish

Research in antibiotics

Research projects and networks in antibiotics

Uppsala University also leads several major research projects and networks in the field of antibiotics, some of which are international and have EU support.

Uppsala Antibiotic Center – UAC

A centre for research, education and innovation aimed at tackling and finding solutions to the global challenge of antibiotic resistance. UAC conducts interdisciplinary research and education on antibiotic resistance involving all three disciplinary domains at Uppsala University. The centre was inaugurated in autumn 2016 and 14 interdisciplinary doctoral projects have been in progress here since 2017.

Uppsala Antibiotic Center (UAC) website

European Gram Negative AntiBacterial Engine – ENABLE

The ENABLE project was launched in February 2014, within the framework of the Innovative Medicines Initiatives (IMI) programme “New Drugs for Bad Bugs” (ND4BB), with Uppsala University and pharmaceuticals company GlaxoSmithKline as the key actors. The goal of the six-year project is to develop antimicrobial drug candidates for clinical trials so as to increase the chances of finding new antibiotics against infections caused by Gram-negative bacteria. The consortium consists of 39 different partners from all over Europe, from academia, research institutes, small and medium-sized biotech companies and major pharmaceutical concerns.

European Gram Negative AntiBacterial Engine (ENABLE) website

Collaboration for Prevention and Treatment of MDR Bacterial Infections – COMBINE

A multinational collaboration, in which Uppsala University has a leading role. Eleven partners from academia and industry in seven European countries are together seeking to pave the way for more effective antibiotic development. The project runs from 1 November 2019 until 31 October 2025. It is backed by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) – a partnership between the EU and the EFPIA (European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations).

Collaboration for Prevention and Treatment of MDR Bacterial Infections (COMBINE) website

Platform for Innovation of Existing Antibiotics – PLATINEA

A collaboration platform that aims to improve access to and optimise the use of antibiotics. The platform is funded by VINNOVA and consists of 15 actors from academia, public authorities, industry and health services. The objective is to ensure that existing antibiotics are used in the best possible way and to guarantee access to important antibiotics that risk disappearing from Sweden. The platform involves continuous identification and prioritisation of antibiotic needs, as well as new studies for the adaptation of antibiotics dosage. The project will also evaluate and test new tools to promote rational antibiotics use and investigate existing supply chains for antibiotics.

Platform for Innovation of Existing Antibiotics (PLATINEA) website

Action on Antibiotic Resistance – ReAct

ReAct is an Uppsala-based international network that has played an important international role in recent years in the approach to developing new antibiotics. The network applies a health system perspective to antibiotic resistance. It seeks to promote a new business model that encourages the public and private sectors to cooperate in tackling the scientific challenges, while creating innovative financial and other incentives. Uppsala therefore excels not only in research on antibiotic resistance but also in the dissemination of information and advocacy.

Action on Antibiotic Resistance (ReAct) website

Last modified: 2021-09-03