Venomtech could solve antibiotic crisis

Posted on 24/05/16

The innovative work of a Discovery Park tenant could play a major part in revolutionising drugs used to treat infections, preventing a possible economic and security crisis in the process.

Recent findings, in a report published this month by leading UK economist Lord Jim O’Neill, outline the danger of growing resistance to antimicrobial drugs, and if the issue isn’t tackled, standard medical procedures such as caesarean sections, joint replacements and chemotherapy, could become too dangerous to be carried out.

The report, the third produced as part of a Review on Antimicrobrial Resistance states that the situation should be treated as an economic and security threat, potentially costing millions of lives and an estimated £70tn by 2050.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today Show on May 19 Lord O’Neil, the chair of the commission, said more companies need to take on new research in order to attempt to combat the potential crisis.

Venomtech, one of number of innovative science research companies based at Discovery Park are supported by Expansion East Kent. They extract, purify and supply venom from a diverse range of species for global drug discovery.

The peptides within the venoms have antibiotic properties that may protect the creature against. These molecules can be developed into new therapeutic tools and become an answer to the problem.

Managing Director, Steve Trim, recently welcomed Sky News cameras into his laboratory on site. Watch the Sky News report.

He said: “We have a unique collection of chemists that actually sit in our enclosures and make the venoms for us that pharmaceutical companies didn’t previously have the access to – so we’re able to show them some useful chemicals, perhaps some of them could take on to make a new therapeutic and perhaps kick-start this area.”

He echoed Lord O’Neill’s views that the problem needs to be addressed and the work that his company do could provide an alternative pathway for medics to choose.

Steve added: “The crisis has been a long time coming, in recent years we have seen people become increasingly resistant to antibiotics handed out by doctors.

“We have identified venom peptides in the next line of defence which could act in new antibiotics, and the aim is to get a new drug rolled out and on the market within the next 10 years.

“We are fighting hard to bring the tools needed to the people that need them and fight together to mitigate the perceived threat of the antibiotic apocalypse.”

The suggestion is that each drug company that develop new antimicrobials should be rewarded with $1bn, but will face fines if they do not try.

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