Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is caused by bugs adapting themselves so treatments are no longer effective and is an increasing health concern worldwide. There have been no new types of antimicrobial drugs developed for over 30 years and the world is running of out effective new treatments. If left unresolved, AMR could turn routine operations into life-threatening procedures, threaten our ability to treat infections and lead to prolonged illness.
While AMR is a concern for everyone, people with CF are particularly vulnerable to it. Antimicrobial drugs, such as antibiotics are a crucial part of day-to-day treatment in CF care and have significantly contributed to people with CF living longer. However, with some CF infections becoming increasingly resistant to the antimicrobial treatments available, AMR is more likely to cause permanent lung damage and can ultimately shorten the lives of people with cystic fibrosis.
New ways of treating these infections that tackle AMR are urgently needed, and it is a top research priority for the Trust. The Research in focus report published today highlights the innovative research we are funding to overcome this resistance, investigating the bugs that cause CF infections and exploring ways to develop new antimicrobial treatments to combat them. The advances we make will not only benefit the CF community but pave the way in the global effort to combat antimicrobial resistance.
Understanding infection-causing bugs
The UK CF Innovation Hub is a ground-breaking strategic partnership between the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and the University of Cambridge, focusing primarily on improving lung health in people with cystic fibrosis. As part of this programme, researchers are applying their expertise to identify weak spots within bacteria as well as pioneering techniques in drug design to act on them.
In June 2020, the researchers published some results of their research so far, showing that they are making good progress in designing new antibiotics against the infection Mycobacterium abscessus – one of the bacterial infections that they are focusing on.
“I think the research they are doing is absolutely extraordinary,” says Mehro-Nissa, who has CF and was recently diagnosed with an M. abscessus infection. “For me, a better treatment could have meant spending less time in hospital, having fewer side effects to the IV antibiotics and more time at home with the people I love.”
By the end of the Innovation Hub funding, the aim is to have designed potential drugs ready to be tested as antibiotics in early stage trials.
From the lab bench to the clinic
After new potential drugs have been discovered, there are still many more steps to complete before a drug can be licensed and used as a new antibiotic for CF lung infections. Completing each step has specific requirements that can be time consuming and costly to meet, which can deter pharmaceutical companies from investing in developing new drugs. Cystic fibrosis antimicrobial drug discovery also represents its own challenges.
With the aim of getting more antimicrobial drugs to people with CF faster we launched the CF Syndicate in AMR in partnership with Medicine Catapult Discovery (MDC) to address these challenges. This partnership is attempting to get more antimicrobial drugs to people with cystic fibrosis faster by bringing together those with the condition and experts from academia and industry to identify and overcome barriers during the drug discovery and development process.
Read the report to find out more, or sign up to our CF LIVE event ‘How we’re working to beat AMR in cystic fibrosis’ on 7 October, 7pm.