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Unique fungal collection could hold key to future antibiotics
Date:1/22/2008

Royal Holloway and CABI both bring a combination of individual scientific skills, expertise and resources to the project. When brought together, these offer the opportunity to build a highly focused natural products drug discovery operation that will address the urgent need for bringing new antibiotic compounds to market.

Since their discovery, antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents have saved millions of lives and significantly eased patients suffering. However, over time, micro-organisms have developed resistance to existing antibiotics making infections difficult, if not impossible, to treat. The recent appearance of multiple-resistant bacterial infections has radically increased the necessity for new antibiotic discovery.

As part of a three-year programme, the joint research facility will utilise CABIs unique collection of fungi gathered from all parts of the world, to screen for potential new antibiotics. Although the first natural product antibiotic to be used clinically, penicillin, was isolated from a fungus, these organisms have not been as extensively evaluated as bacteria as sources of new drugs for treating infections and so there is great potential for discovery in CABIs 28,000 organism collection.

Furthermore, over the past 25 years companies have concentrated on using chemistry-based approaches to modify recognised antibiotic structures. However, the use of natural products, from fungi, which have evolved from millions of years of competition against bacteria is likely to lead to products with new modes of antibiotic action that disease-causing bacteria cannot counter. This new joint facility aims to harness these natural chemical compounds from fungi to offer potential new antibiotics. Similarly, compounds that have proven health benefits when taken in the diet (so-called nutraceuticals) are also likely to be found in fungi and the new joint research facility will also screen the collection for new nutraceut
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Contact: Lynsey Sterrey
l.sterrey@cabi.org
44-014-918-29361
CABI
Source:Eurekalert

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