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INEOS Oxford Institute

Research

The IOI has three primary, interconnected research programs, which in turn feed into its education and policy initiatives.

Animal Antibiotics

Most antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections in humans are also used in animals, which is a major contributory factor to the growth of AMR. We are designing novel screening programs and new candidate compounds to discover viable alternative antibiotics that can be used solely in agriculture and aquaculture, and produce zero cross-resistance to human antibiotics.

Very few compounds are being specifically designed for animal-specific therapies, and none to accompany food additives. This is a significant problem as the antibiotics in common use - for example, ampicillin, oxytetracycline and colistin - are also used to treat infections in humans, increasing the potential for bacterial resistance to these drugs.

Our aim is to develop new antibacterial compounds which are specifically designed for animal use. The properties of these compounds will be challenging - factors such as cheap to manufacture, unique molecular structure, and with zero cross-resistance to human antibiotics. Achieving this will provide a platform for global discussion and policy with the aim of differentiating animal and human antibiotics and thereby ensure we preserve the efficacy of human medicines for future generations.

Human Antibiotics

We apply state of the art medicinal chemistry and microbiology to antibacterial drug discovery to enable and promote the development of breakthrough new treatments for human bacterial infections. Our science-focused approach is interdisciplinary and highly collaborative, both within Oxford and internationally.

The world is running out of effective antibiotics to treat human infections. There have been remarkably few breakthroughs in the field, and with few novel antibiotic classes in the drug pipeline. We are undertaking unique approaches to the design of novel antibiotics to be used in human medicine. We are targeting the challenge of multi-drug resistant Enterobacterales, including those resistant to carbapenem, colistin and tigecycline, which are increasingly deployed to treat life-threatening infections including sepsis.

In addition to exploring novelty, we will modify and reinvestigate scaffolds such as the beta-lactams, beta-lactamase inhibitors, or aminoglycosides. Our primary focus is on major global unmet needs which are not being addressed by other research groups or industry. These activities will synergise with our academic research in synthetic chemistry, modelling, structural biology and microbiology. Acknowledging the challenges of this program, we aim to have two candidate compounds suitable for further clinical development by 2026.

Burden and Surveillance

We undertake international, collaborative studies with global surveillance and assessment programs to understand the impact of antibiotic resistance on low-middle income country health and agricultural structures. We aim to develop important actionable estimates of the AMR burden that will impact global and regional policy decisions.

The social, economic and health costs of AMR are unequally felt across the world, largely because of the variable risk of infections according to factors such as overcrowding, access to clean water, sanitation conditions, and poverty.

There are very few studies examining the burden of AMR and whether AMR is linked to increased mortality. Our expertise in microbiology brings critical new perspectives to the challenge of assessing AMR burden and its outcome with bacterial pathogenicity.

We will be undertaking collaborative studies with global surveillance and assessment programs to understand the impact of antibiotic resistance on neonatal morbidity and mortality, in addition to identifying possible alternative therapies to minimize its impact. Aligned with these initiatives we will also:

1. Examine the impact of COVID on global AMR rates and

2. Understand the role of arthropods in the dissemination of global AMR.

3. Understand the dynamics of AMR genes between humans and animals.

4. Determine factors in the development of the human microbiota.

The BARNARDS Study

The Ineos Oxford Institute team will be continuing the successful work of the BARNARDS (Burden of Antibiotic Resistance in Neonates from Developing Societies) study led by Professor Tim Walsh, and previously funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The initiative investigates sources of pathogens leading to sepsis in neonates in developing countries and potential sources of antimicrobial resistance, in order to identify possible solutions to minimise its impacts.

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Education & Policy

Addressing antimicrobial resistance requires a global effort. It will be critical to develop the pipeline of talent to undertake research and pursue scientific discovery in the field in the years to come.

It will also be essential to develop and implement effective policies with an informed public to better combat the threats brought about by the overuse and misuse of antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents.

We are therefore developing a range early career mentoring opportunities and innovative educational programmes, including postgraduate degree courses in AMR and professional short courses for policymakers, industry actors and clinical practitioners.

We will also be undertaking wide-reaching engagement initiatives to raise public awareness, influence policy and direct action to help prevent the growing threat of drug resistant infections.

The Ineos Oxford Institute collaborates across the University of Oxford and far beyond, but is rooted in the Departments of Chemistry and Zoology.

Find out more about the Departments’ work here:

University of Oxford - Chemistry Department

University of Oxford - Zoology Department