Cambridge, UK-based drug discovery group Discuva has been awarded £1.5 million of Biomedical Catalyst* money to support development of novel antibiotics to tackle the issue of multidrug-resistance and life-threatening bacterial infections.

The project, called 'Exploitation of transport mechanisms for novel Gram-negative antibiotic drug discovery', will use Discuva's proprietary SATIN technology to explore new biological targets and deliver novel drug candidates that have a reduced likelihood of eliciting resistance compared to conventional antibiotics.

SATIN technology is applied on bacteriocidal hits identified from high-throughput phenotypic screening to identify both the molecular targets of each compound and all the corresponding potential resistance genes. This information enables the prioritisation of compounds into chemical optimisation which ultimately have the best chance of clinical success.

"This award from Innovate UK allows Discuva to capitalise on the unparalleled genome-wide molecular data that SATIN delivers to fully understand and exploit drug uptake and excretion in bacterial cells," said the firm's chief executive David Williams.

"This information will enable the discovery and development of further novel antimicrobial drugs to combat the antibiotic resistant Gram-negative pathogens that are the cause of life-threatening infections in our healthcare system".

The development of new antibiotics is urgently needed to quell the rise in antimicrobial resistance. Experts have warned that failure to tackle the rise of the superbug could propel the current annual death toll from 700,000 to 10 million by 2050, at a global cost of $100 trillion between now and then.

*The Biomedical Catalyst is a unique partnership between Innovate UK and the Medical Research Council tasked with providing responsive and effective support to the most innovative life sciences opportunities to accelerate their journey to market.