A Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) that officially opened last week in Liverpool, UK will look for new ways to diagnose and treat infections such as tuberculosis, Clostridium difficile, sepsis, HIV and cystic fibrosis.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has put £13.5 million into the BRC, one of 12 the NIHR funds across England as part of the government’s health research strategy. A joint venture between the University of Liverpool, the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the centre has also attracted a £6.4 million investment from the Northwest Regional Development Agency.

The Liverpool BRC will focus broadly on four areas: hospital- and community-acquired infections, chest infections, sexual health and the safety of antimicrobial drugs. The plan is to deliver 13 projects over the next five years, such as genetic testing to determine whether people may be allergic to penicillin, vaccine development for pneumonia, and exploring the factors leading to drug resistance in some HIV patients.

These projects will be carried out at state-of-the art facilities in the Royal Liverpool Hospital, including:

- a new clinical research unit, with interview and examination rooms as well as six beds for trials of new drugs and treatments;
- a medical microbiology facility for the identification and safe handling of bacteria;
- a bioanalytical facility for measuring drug levels and other small molecules at low concentrations;
- a repository and database for human samples and organisms, linked to a national database with the aim of developing a registry of infectious diseases and adverse reactions from antibiotics.