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Five things we're working in partnership on to tackle antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the way bacterial, viral and fungal infections have adapted to defend themselves against antimicrobial drugs, making the drugs ineffective. To mark World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, here are five ways our CF Syndicate in AMR partnership with Medicines Discovery Catapult is accelerating our progress in treating cystic fibrosis (CF) lung infections.

1. Bringing experts together for the CF Syndicate in AMR

The CF Syndicate in Antimicrobial Resistance is a partnership with university and hospital-based researchers, and researchers from biopharmaceutical and biotechnology companies who are working on understanding and treating bacterial, fungal and viral infections in CF and other diseases. It is enabled and managed by the Trust and Medicines Discovery Catapult.

Watch a video from the chair of the Syndicate’s steering committee Dr Deborah O’Neil, explaining more about the Syndicate, its importance and her recently awarded OBE.

2. Understanding what makes people with CF susceptible to lung infections

We know that people with CF are susceptible to lung infections that other people are not affected by. Dr Martin Welch at the University of Cambridge is the principal investigator of one of our Strategic Research Centres (SRCs) investigating what makes Pseudomonas aeruginosa thrive in the CF lung. The uniqueness of the CF lung is an important factor in developing new antimicrobial drugs for CF too, something that the CF Syndicate in AMR is helping biotechs and biopharmaceutical companies to understand.

3. Working out ways to treat different strains of bugs

There are many factors that contribute to whether and how Pseudomonas becomes established in the lungs and how it can be treated. One of these is the fact that there are many different sub-species or ‘strains’ of Pseudomonas – which strain someone is growing in their lungs could make a difference to how it affects them and how to treat it. Professor Jane Davies is leading a team within her Strategic Research Centre to investigate this in more detail. It’s important that biotechs and biopharmaceutical companies have access to different strains of bugs too, to test treatments in development. The CF Syndicate in AMR is developing ways to facilitate access to a wider range of samples.

4. Developing new antimicrobial drugs

The UK CF Innovation Hub is a ground-breaking strategic partnership between the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and the University of Cambridge, focusing primarily on improving lung health in people with cystic fibrosis. As part of this programme, researchers are applying pioneering drug design techniques to develop new antibiotic treatments.

After new potential drugs have been discovered, there are still many more steps to complete before a drug can be licensed and used as a new antibiotic for CF lung infections. Completing each step can seem like a high fence to overcome – each has specific requirements that can be time-consuming and costly to meet, which can deter pharmaceutical companies from investing in developing new drugs. The CF Syndicate is working to help lower these ‘fences’ and make it easier to develop new antibiotics for cystic fibrosis.

5. Working with the CF community to beat antimicrobial resistance

The CF Syndicate in AMR is designed with the priorities of people with CF at its centre. The activities of the Syndicate are determined by its Steering Committee, which includes two members of the CF community. From time to time, other members of the CF community get involved with the Syndicate on some of their projects.

“The session was lively, engaging and thought-provoking. The discussion covered a range of agenda items but very much felt like an informal chat rather than a meeting, and all participants were offered the opportunity to contribute as much or as little as they felt comfortable with” explained Luke, who has CF and took part in a recent focus group.

“I also found listening to other CF patients and hearing about their experiences fascinating. In these modern times, when the risk of cross infection rules out face-to-face contact between CF-ers, it was so nice to feel part of a community, rather than simply isolated in our own experience of cystic fibrosis.”

If you have CF and you’d like to know more about becoming involved in the work of the Syndicate, please email Lorna Allen, our Involvement Manager.

You can read more about how the CF Syndicate in AMR is working to progress these goals in a blog on Medicine Discovery Catapult's website.