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Experts from the University of Nottingham to develop new treatments for cystic fibrosis infections

Friday, 22 October 2021

Experts from the University of Nottingham have joined a Strategic Research Centre as part of a new international collaboration led by Liverpool University to accelerate the development of much needed antibiotics for cystic fibrosis (CF) lung infections.

Supported by £750,000 of funding from the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and the CF Foundation in the United States, the Strategic Research Centre will develop new laboratory methods to make it quicker and easier for researchers to test new medicines for CF.

Most people with CF will develop lung infections throughout their lifetimes. Once the bugs that cause the infections adapt to the environment of CF lungs they can be extremely difficult to treat. In some cases, the bugs are becoming resistant to the strongest medicines that are available. Left untreated, these infections can trigger permanent lung damage, meaning people are more breathless and have less energy to do day-to-day activities. More effective treatments with fewer side effects are urgently needed.

Researchers around the world are currently working on the development of new medicines to treat CF lung infections. However, there are differences and gaps in how different researchers test new CF medicines in the laboratory meaning that the results are not comparable, which slows down progress.

In addition, the tests that are used were not originally designed specifically to test CF medicines. For example, the tests don’t mimic the effects of the thick sticky mucus found in the lungs of people with CF. This makes it hard to assess whether a potential medicine will work.

The new four-year Strategic Research Centre (SRC) led by Dr Jo Fothergill at the University of Liverpool with the Professor Miguel Cámara from the University of Nottingham, as the deputy lead, will develop a new set of laboratory methods specifically designed for testing new medicines for CF.

The SRC will combine expertise in understanding the infection-causing bugs Pseudomonas aeruginosa, NTM and Burkholderia cepacia complex, with expertise in developing new lab methods.

Alongside researchers from across the UK, Canada and USA, the SRC will be supported by a wide range of collaborators.

Professor Miguel Cámara from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Nottingham

Professor Cámara, Co-Director of the National Biofilms Innovation Centre at the University of Nottingham University, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to develop an innovative drug discovery pipeline which can accelerate the discovery of new drugs to treat people with CF.”

The SRC is also being supported by the CF AMR Syndicate, a partnership between the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Medicines Discovery Catapult that was created to find ways to speed up the development of new therapies for CF infections.

Dr Paula Sommer, Head of Research at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust said: “This Strategic Research Centre is a great illustration of the power of collaboration in working to solve problems in CF infection drug development.”

The SRC also involves co-investigators from Cambridge, Cardiff and Warwick; Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital; Manchester University Hospitals NHS Trust; Georgia Institute of Technology in the USA and the Institut de biologie Intégrative et des systems in Quebec, Canada.

Charlotte Anscombe - Media Relations Manager - Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
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Notes to editors:

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. Ranked 103rd out of more than 1,000 institutions globally and 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2022, the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and disability sport provision is reflected in its crowning as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 Sports University of the Year. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. Alongside Nottingham Trent University, we lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, a pioneering collaboration which brings together the combined strength and civic missions of Nottingham’s two world-class universities and is working with local communities and partners to aid recovery and renewal following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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