Rutgers wins $26M NIH grant to help fill lackluster antibiotics pipeline

Rutgers University has landed a $26 million grant from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to develop new antibiotics to curb the impending crisis of antimicrobial drug resistance.

Infectious disease expert David Perlin, executive director of the Public Health Research Institute at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, will lead the major research effort, which will aim to help fill the dried-up global pipeline of antimicrobial drugs.

Under the 5-year grant, Rutgers will participate in NIH's Centers of Excellence for Translational Research (CETR), a public-private partnership comprising scientists from academic institutions like Rutgers as well as drug developers from industry. So far, Cubist Pharmaceuticals is the first industry partner to sign on to the project. As part of the CETR partnership, researchers will also seek to develop new bacteria-fighting approaches that are designed to avert, or at least significantly slow, the development of bacterial resistance in the future.

First introduced in the 1940s to help control deadly bacterial diseases, modern antibiotics were seen as wonder drugs, but drug resistance has been slowly developing ever since. Researchers have since created new generations of antibiotics, but misuse and overuse of these drugs over the years has caused bacteria to adapt and mutate, making them impervious to the drugs that were designed to kill them.

Annually, at least 2 million people in the U.S. acquire serious infections with bacteria that are resistant to one or more of the antibiotics designed to treat those infections, and at least 23,000 of those die as a result of infection, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of these infections--including E. coli, salmonella, Shigella and C. difficile--are acquired in healthcare settings, such as hospitals or nursing homes.

Health experts predict that deaths associated with drug-resistant pathogens will continue to rise without major new drug discoveries.

- read the press release

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