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Science and business working together on affordable alternatives for antibiotics

Almost fifty scientists and twenty companies will be working on developing new antibiotics and alternatives for antibiotics use. NWO and the Ministry of Health, Wellbeing and Sport will together invest close to seven million euros in this research. Scientists from Leiden University and LUMC will be involved.

Resistance to antibiotics is a worldwide threat to public health, which means that new methods and means of combatting bacterial infections are urgently needed. Scientists and businesses will be joining forces to meet this challenge within the Novel Antibacterial Compounds and Therapies Antagonizing Resistance (NACTAR) research programme. This collaboration within the research projects is expected to contribute to the effective application of research results in the Dutch healthcare system. 

From Leiden University, Professor of Molecular Biotechnology Gilles van Wezel is the lead applicant for one of the projects. From the LUMC, Peter Nibbering and Tom Ottenhoff both have similar roles. 

Antibiotics and alternatives

The research projects focus on antibiotics from different perspectives. One of the projects, for example, aims to answer the question of how you can 'reset' human immune cells once they have been damaged by resistant bacteria. In another project, researchers are developing proteins tha make these resistant bacteria susceptible to antibiotics that to date are only effective with other groups of bacteria. Other projects that have received funding focus on further developing promising substances that seem to be effective against resistant micro-organisms and that may be an alternative for current antibiotics. A summary of the projects that have been awarded funding is given in the column to the right. 

Collaboration

NWO's applied and technical domain (TTW) is investing 2 million euros in the programme, half of which is intended for research within the Chemistry top sector. The Ministry of Health, Wellbeing and Sport is making amost 5 million euros available for the NACTAR programme. Of this sum, one million has been reserved for applied clinical research. In order to bring together and stimulate excellent research in the Netherlands, the Ministry is investing in research programmes such as the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development's (ZonMw) Antibiotic Resistance programme, NWO's NACTAR and the Netherlands Antibiotics Development Platform (NADP). These plans are in line with the priorities set by the Ministry of Health, one of which is to combat antibiotics resistance. 

Industrial partners are contributing over a million euros to the NACTAR projects, either financially or in the form of knowledge or material. The NADP will have a role in setting up further research and ensuring that industry is closely involved in these projects. A total of 12 knowledge institutions, along with 15 (pharmaceutical) companies and five health funds and foundations are involved in the eight projects that have been awarded funding.

Image: NWO.

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