The Medical and Life Sciences Research Fund was delighted to receive a very special grant from a local charity to support antibiotics research. Without new antibiotics things we all take for granted including surgery, chemotherapy, organ transplantation and premature infant care will be at risk. The purchase of items essential for work on finding how antibiotic resistance develops and spreads and in finding new antibiotics has been made possible. Further more, the lead researchers have been able to use initial data from these new assay systems to write to Research Councils to apply for further grant money.
This has resulted in the joint purchase of:
A controlled environment microbiological cabinet where the temperature and carbon dioxide / oxygen levels can be carefully adjusted to encourage the growth of so-called ‘fastidious’ bacteria. These are infectious organisms which cause disease but do not grow outside the body except when in controlled conditions. This equipment allows us to see how these organisms are affected by antibiotics.
A crystallisation robot to help determine the high-resolution 3D structures of complex proteins. These proteins are components of the cell walls of bacteria. When considering the effect of new antibiotics on the cell walls of bacteria it is important to have 3D resolution to help us understand how these proteins work in the bacterial cell wall and this allows us to design new antibiotics in the 21st century
A multi label plate reader to help develop new high throughput assays for antibiotic discovery.
We use 96 small plastic wells in plate format so we can conduct up to 96 experiments in parallel. Using this piece of equipment we have developed completely new tests for the proteins in the bacteria which are the targets of the antibiotic penicillin - something not achieved anywhere else in the world since the original discovery of penicillin.
A high resolution protein purification system. This will enable us to purify the proteins we need both to understand their structure and function and create new ways of designing antibiotics.
Also, from this special grant, funding was allocated to a final year University of Warwick PhD student to support genomic studies on the evolution of penicillin resistance. The value of this grant has been matched by the University of Warwick ‘Pump Priming’ committee for the development of Early Stage Researchers.