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Monash Warwick Alliance collaboration tackles antimicrobial resistance

The emergence of multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogens is dramatically threatening the current state and future prospects of healthcare worldwide. A novel and cross-disciplinary collaboration, facilitated by the Monash Warwick Alliance, is tackling this global challenge.

In 2014 the World Health Organisation declared antimicrobial resistance a global health crisis with a ‘post-antibiotic era’ looming unless critical measures are taken. The research groups of Dr Tosin, Dr Cryle and Dr Corre have all been pursuing different research avenues towards the discovery and the understanding of natural product biosynthetic pathways, which hold the promise to develop novel antibiotics.

Funding from the Monash Warwick Alliance has made it possible for all three of these research groups to establish new grounds for collaboration, sharing resources, expertise and preliminary findings, in order to establish a multilateral and comprehensive approach. Unlocking the complementary strengths of both institutions, this collaboration has cut across disciplinary boundaries to produce research which has the potential to have a global impact on society.

Dr Tosin explains;

The need for new antibiotics to treat infections caused by both Gram-positive and negative microorganisms such as Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa is urgent and unmet: resistance to last-resort treatments, including that of S. aureus to glycopeptide antibiotics, is spreading and no novel antibiotic classes are actively pursued by the pharmaceutical industry.

Natural products (NPs) constitute a prominent source of antibiotics: amongst these are broad-spectrum compounds, such as erythromycin and penicillin derivatives, as well as last-resort molecules, such as the glycopeptides (GPAs).

We have used the funding from the Monash Warwick Alliance to combine our complementary expertise and jointly underpin novel antibiotic biosynthetic pathways preliminarily identified by individual groups. Using the resulting knowledge, we aim to engineer microorganisms for the production of novel antibiotic candidates.”

The teams are aiming to have their findings reported through co-authored publications in top-tier international journals (e.g. Angewandte Chemie, Nature Chemical Biology and PNAS) and their results will also be utilised for joint grant applications to funding agencies such as BBSRC, EPSRC and MRC (UK), and ARC and NHMRC (Australia).