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New weapons to combat antibiotic resistance

One of the greatest challenges facing modern medicine is the unrestrained use of antibiotics, leading to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the growth of ‘superbugs’ such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) that have become highly resistant to antibiotics. Official figures show that annually, AMR is currently responsible for around 25 000 deaths in the EU and costs EUR 1.5 billion in healthcare expenditure and productivity losses.

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However, the impact of AMR is not only in deaths. Drug resistance means people suffer infections for longer, resulting in disabling medical complications like amputation and damage to vital organs. Resistance also means repeated visits to doctors, longer hospital stays and treatment with more expensive drugs. Combating AMR is therefore a major priority for the EU, which through the FP7 and Horizon 2020 framework programmes is providing millions of euros in funding to innovative projects that are working to counter this threat. The aim is to strengthen research on AMR and enable the EU to actively promote global action and play a defining role in the fight against AMR.

Faster diagnosis - better drug delivery

This CORDIS Results Pack focuses on 13 EU-funded projects that are spearheading AMR research. Initiatives such as RAPID created a gene-based test for Klebsiella pneumonia, a multiple drug resistant (MDR) bacteria common in hospital infections, while PNEUMOSIP developed a state-of-the-art device to analyse AMR and speed up pneumonia diagnosis. In addition, PNEUMONP created a theragnostic system for the treatment of lung Gram-negative bacterial infections and nanocarriers for better drug delivery. The CYCLON HIT project also used nanoparticle drug delivery to tackle resistance to antibiotics by tuberculosis and bacteria species associated with hospital infections.

Molecular mechanisms and personalised medicine

The TRANSLOCATION project investigated cellular and molecular mechanisms behind influx and efflux processes in Gram-negative bacteria. SYNPEPTIDE generated variations of peptides with useful functions for the pharmaceutical industry. The structural analysis of antibiotic binding to ribosomes and pathogens was investigated by NOVRIB to create environmentally friendly drugs that combat antibiotic resistance. DRUGS SENSE meanwhile developed novel biosensors based on RNA molecules. Thanks to TAILORED TREATMENT clinicians can now make better informed decisions regarding the need for, and type of antimicrobial treatment required for individual patients. R-GNOSIS devised cutting-edge interventions to reduce the spread of MDR Gram-negative bacteria. DRIVE-AB will transform research and development to ensure new antibiotics are used sustainably and meet the public’s health needs. Finally, AIDA is re-evaluating the efficacy of old antibiotics from the past for use in the future.