July 23, 2024

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Technological development

UCC academic awarded €2.5m from EU to look into antibiotics alternatives

UCC academic awarded €2.5m from EU to look into antibiotics alternatives

The emergence of drug resistant bacteria has become a problem in recent years due to the over-reliance on antibiotics and a lack of new drug development.

The director of Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Cork-based research centre APC Microbiome has been awarded a grant from the EU to investigate alternatives to antibiotics.

APC Microbiome is located in University College Cork (UCC). Prof Paul Ross is the first researcher based at the university to receive such an award, which comes from the European Research Council (ERC).

Ross has been awarded €2.5m in funding for his investigations under the ERC’s Advanced Grant programme.

His project, called BACtheWINNER, will tackle the global antimicrobial resistance problem ­– or the challenge traditional antibiotics and antiviral medicines face when they encounter resistant bacteria.

The emergence of drug resistant bacteria has become a problem in recent years due to the over-reliance on antibiotics and a lack of new drug development.

With the discovery of new antimicrobial treatments becoming more urgent, Ross and his team will work to explore the potential of naturally occurring antimicrobial peptides produced by bacteria in the human gut and other sites for the development of new antimicrobial therapies.

Also known as bacteriocins, these gut-produced peptides represent a potential solution to the antimicrobial resistance threat by killing drug resistant bacteria while at the same time avoiding the damage caused by many antibiotics to gut microbiota.

Based out of APC Microbiome, Ross will lead a team of scientists who will work to develop bacteriocins as effective antimicrobials to predictably edit microbiomes and target pathogens. He will be assisted by his colleague Prof Colin Hill, who is also based at the UCC centre.

Prof John O’Halloran, president of UCC, offered his congratulations to Ross on his funding award. “This award will drive momentum for this initiative and provide solutions to antimicrobial resistance, one of the most important global challenges of our time.”

Ross said: “I am delighted to receive an ERC Advanced Award to further investigate bacteriocins as alternative therapeutics to antibiotics, in a time when we now appreciate the role of the microbiota in human and animal health.”

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