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    Grants encourage development of antibiotic alternatives


    The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) announced in January that it is funding 24 research projects, to the tune of about $5 million, to develop non-traditional therapeutics for bacterial infections. The aim is to find new therapeutic options to help combat drug-resistant bacteria and the growing antibiotic resistance health threat, according to a National Institutes of Health press release.

    “These new NIAID grants will provide funding to researchers developing unique, non-traditional therapies that could complement or even replace currently available antibiotics that are losing effectiveness,” NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., said in the release.

    READ: Faster response to antibiotic therapy failure needed

    Included under the umbrella of non-traditional therapeutic options are antibacterial treatments that work differently than antibiotics—typically targeting one or more essential pathways to destroy or inhibit bacteria types’ growth. Examples include therapeutic bacteria, which uses good bacteria found in or added to the human microbiome to target or control the growth of harmful bacteria; bacteriophage, or phage therapy, which uses viruses that affect only bacteria to reduce or eliminate bacteria; adding decoy targets to prevent bacterial pathogens from producing disease; enhancing human immune responses to pathogens; and developing drugs that incapacitate the pathogen’s ability to adapt and compete, according to NIAID.

    Among the innovation grants that might interest dermatologists: Indiana University and Purdue University at Indianapolis researchers received funding for their project “Development of Anti-Virulence Drugs by Targeting the SaeRS Two-Component System of Staphylococcus Aureus”; Synthetic Genomics Vaccines, Inc., will pursue the study called “Towards the Development of Engineered Phage Therapeutics Against Multidrug-Resistant Pathogens”; and University of Colorado researchers now have funding for the project “Development of Novel Resistance-Modifying Agents for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA).”

    ALSO READ: Ancient medicine, modern MRSA cure?

    Brad Spellberg, M.D., professor of clinical medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, said any impact from these studies on physicians who prescribe antibiotics is far out. 

    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton is president of Words Come Alive, based in Boca Raton, Florida.


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