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Areas of focus


Antibiotic discovery and development

Given the relentless increase in antibiotic resistance, there is a clear and urgent need for new drugs to treat life-threatening infections. At the IOI, our approach involves discovering and developing new antibiotics for use in humans and in animals. These activities combine our multi-disciplinary expertise in synthetic chemistry, cellular and molecular microbiology, genetics and genomics, modelling and structural biology.

Human antibiotics

We are pioneering new approaches to the design of new antibiotics to be used in human medicine. We prioritise major global unmet needs that are not being addressed by other research groups or industry. For example, we are targeting the challenge of multi-drug resistant (MDR) Enterobacterales, including those resistant to carbapenem, colistin and tigecycline antibiotics.

Our approach is two-fold: we design novel compounds with minimal resistance against other classes of antibiotics; and create inhibitors to antibiotic resistant mechanisms, which can be used in combination therapies to restore the activity of existing compounds.

We have multiple ongoing research initiatives, including on:

  • new β-lactams (antibiotics related to penicillin that inhibit bacterial Penicillin Binding Proteins, or PBPs)
  • new non β-lactam inhibitors of PBPs (including boronate-based antibiotics)
  • new inhibitors of metallo β-lactamases (MBLs, which are bacterial enzymes that confer resistance against β-lactam antibiotics)
  • new ways to combat resistance to tetracyclines and related drugs (a group of broad-spectrum antibiotics unrelated to penicillin)

Animal antibiotics

Most antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections in humans - such as ampicillin, oxytetracycline and colistin - are also used in animals, which is a major contributory factor to the growth of AMR.

We are designing novel screening programmes and new candidate compounds to discover viable alternative antibiotics that can be used solely in agriculture and aquaculture, and that induce minimal resistance to human antibiotics.

We use a unique approach that involves screening conditions that better mimic those experienced by antibiotics once within animals. We have multiple ongoing screening initiatives, including on:

  • antibiotics currently not in clinical use
  • targeted experimental molecules that were abandoned for clinical use
  • compound libraries (including for drug repurposing)
  • combination therapies

Related publications

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