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.

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Examples of ongoing research

Research projects and networks in antibiotics

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)

European Gram Negative AntiBacterial Engine – ENABLE-2

The development of new antibiotics is a crucial part of the efforts to address the problems arising from resistant bacteria. Within the EU project European Gram Negative AntiBacterial Engine (ENABLE), a solid model to provide support during the early stages of antibacterial drug development was founded. Now, Uppsala University continues the work in ENABLE-2, a platform funded by the Swedish Research Council.

ENABLE-2 is welcomed with great enthusiasm among Swedish academia and biotech companies, and an independent portfolio committee has, among many applications, selected four highly promising molecules that constitute potential candidates for antibacterial drugs and will be included in the platform. ENABLE-2 will initially run until 2022.

European Gram Negative AntiBacterial Engine (ENABLE-2)

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)

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)

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)

European Accelerator of Tuberculosis Regime (ERA4TB)

ERA4TB is a European knowledge consortium working to develop develop ten new antibiotic candidates and new combination treatments against tuberculosis, an infectious disease that each year causes 1.5 million deaths. The initiative, initiated by IMI AMR Accelerator and running 2020–2026, includes Uppsala University’s research environment in Pharmacokinetics and Quantitative Pharmacology.

Uppsala University’s research environment in Pharmacokinetics and Quantitative Pharmacology

European Accelerator of Tuberculosis Regime (ERA4TB)


UNITE4TB unites universities and research-based pharmaceutical companies in thirteen countries in the development of clinical trials of potential antibiotics and new treatments against tuberculosis. The consortium is funded by the IMI AMR Accelerator and operates on four continents. Formulation of mathematical models to design optimal clinical studies and to calculate the outcome of these is carried out at Uppsala University's research environment in Pharmacokinetics and Quantitative Pharmacology.

Uppsala University's research environment in Pharmacokinetics and Quantitative Pharmacology