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European researchers look for new ways to fight multi-drug-resistant bacterial infections

The Institute of Biotechnology and Biomedicine (IBB) belonging to Universitat Autnoma de Barcelona (UAB) is directing the AntiPathoGN European research project aimed at looking for new drug targets in pathogenic bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics. To do so a consortium was created by six institutions and firms in Spain, three in Germany, one in France and one in Bulgaria. The project, which will cost approximately 7.7 million euros, will be carried out during four years. The European Union has subsidised the project with six million euros.

In the past decade bacterial resistance to antibiotics has risen significantly whereas in some cases the rise has been dramatic such as in hospital areas. It has reached such a stage that the World Health Organization considers these multi-drug-resistant microorganisms the cause of emerging infectious diseases. Currently a large amount of antibiotics available are not apt for the treatment of resistant pathogens belonging to an important group called gram-negative bacteria. On occasions, the choice narrows down to one drug such as the "last-resort" antibiotic colistin to treat infections caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa or Acinetobacter baumannii. At the same time, the lack of economic benefits has reduced the amount of research pharmaceutical companies dedicate to creating new antibiotics.

Given this situation, the AntiPathoGN project intends to cover the need for more knowledge of the biological processes and cell growth and division mechanisms of four of the most resistant gram-negative bacteria - Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Helicobacter pylori, Acinetobacter baumannii and Escherichia coli. These bacteria cause respiratory, digestive, urinary tract, skin and many other types of infections, and researchers aim to discover new substances which would be effective in fighting against them. The project works with a multidisciplinary approach and includes innovative contributions from the fields of microbiology, proteomics, and computational and structural biology, as well as pharmaceutics.

The AntiPathoGN project is coordinated by Xavier Daura, professor at UAB's Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA). Other participating institutes are the Institute for Biomedical Research (IRB Barcelona), the Clinical Foundation for Biomedical Research (Fundaci Clnic per a la Recerca Biomdica- FCRB), and the biotechnology firms Infociencia, Anaxomics Biotech and Microbionta.


Contact: Maria Jesus Delgado
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

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