South Africa - UK to establish research hub for discovery of new antibiotics

The South Africa Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and UK Medical Research Council, have received funding to launch the South Africa-UK Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Drug Discovery (DD) Partnership Hub Initiative.

The three-year, £1.9 million project funded by the Newton Fund will bring together scientists from the UK and South Africa to establish an Antibiotic Accelerator Hub to significantly boost capacity for discovery of new antibiotics.

According to Professor Rosemary Dorrington, Department of Science and Technology/National Research Foundation South African Research Chairs Initiative (DST/NRF SARChI); “This initiative will lay the foundation for a multi-disciplinary drug discovery platform in a region known to be a terrestrial and marine biodiversity hotspot. The establishment of a Natural Products Research Network representing fourteen South African partner institutions, will provide unprecedented access to the chemical diversity of our extraordinarily rich natural resources.”

The £1.9 million includes £412,000 for a seed project, which will explore the diversity of antimicrobial peptides in South Africa to identify potential new antibiotics. This element is led by Dr James Mason at King's College London and Professor Anabella Gaspar at the University of Pretoria, with contributions from the Universities of Warwick and Sheffield and Public Health England.

Alongside medical benefits, the project aims to support future growth in the bio-economies of both countries, ensuring fair and equitable sharing of the benefits of any new drugs arising from the research with communities.

Photo courtesy / Google

Article by Jedidah Mwangi