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Warwick joins £2.2m Anglo-Canadian quest for new weapons in war against antibiotic resistance

University of Warwick researchers have teamed up with Canadian scientists on a £2.2 million project to search for new antibiotics which will beat resistance in deadly “superbugs”.

The University of Warwick is part of a transatlantic team funded by the Canada/UK Partnership on Antibiotic Resistance, a collaboration between the UK’s Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

The four-year project will support high-quality research into alternatives to existing antibiotics whose effectiveness is being challenged by increasing resistance in bacteria such as E. coli and MRSA.

Professor Chris Dowson, who is leading the project at the University of Warwick, said: “Growing antibiotic resistance to the current generation of antibiotics is of huge concern worldwide.

“Antibiotics underpin many aspects of healthcare - from cancer treatment through to surgery – but the pace of antibiotic resistance in some bacteria is speeding up.

“Coupled with that, there is a worrying lack of new antibiotic drugs coming through the pipeline from private drug companies.

“That’s why public funding for projects like this is so vital.

“Governments need to take responsibility for funding early-stage drug discovery as we face an increasing vacuum of antibiotic research within the pharmaceutical industry.”

The Anglo-Canadian partnership takes advantage of the strong academic and clinical research strengths that exist in both Canada and the UK.

The University of Warwick has developed the programme and is leading a UK team including the universities of Birmingham, Sheffield and Newcastle, working alongside the universities of Guelph, McMaster, Laval and British Columbia in Canada, which will focus on increasing understanding of bacterial cell wall growth in a bid to find new targets for new antibiotics

Dr David Roper of the University of Warwick, School of Life Sciences and co-director of the project in the UK said: “Researchers on both sides of the Atlantic will be working in teams together exploring and exploiting aspects of the way in which bacteria synthesise their cell walls as they grow.

“Many current antibiotics, including penicillin, target this process and we think there are many new aspects to exploit, if we understood the process better.

“Our coordinated research efforts will be to further define the biological elements of how bacteria build their cell walls and discover new chemicals that interfere with that process.

“Research teams in Canada and the UK have unique facilities and expertise to do this and for the first time funding from MRC and CIHR is being used to combine those assets.”

Research at the University of Warwick benefits from equipment provided through funding from Advantage West Midlands’ Birmingham Science City, which will also contribute to this programme.


Notes to editors

Professor Chris Dowson is available on 02476 523534

Or you can contact University of Warwick press officer Anna Blackaby on 02476 575910 or 07885 433155 or

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