On 16th September 2021, I met up with Professor Mathew Upton to present him with a grant for £9,000. This is intended to help finance Antibiotics Accelerator research which is currently taking place at the University of Plymouth.
About the Derriford Research Facility
The Derriford Research Facility is based at the University of Plymouth and is state-of-the-art. The facility was only completed in the last few years and, in fact, I visited the centre when the building was under construction. The facility cost the University £17 million to build and is providing a research-intensive environment to investigate cancer; infection, immunity and inflammation; and neurodegenerative diseases, including brain tumours, dementia, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, antibiotic resistance, oral cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Ebola and bovine tuberculosis. The Hospital Saturday Fund has previously given a grant to support research into Huntington’s disease at the University.
The Antibiotics Accelerator project
Professor Mathew Upton’s research work involves finding new antibiotics to which human pathogens are not resistant. He explained that his team has discovered deep sea bacteria which could be used to produce new antibiotics to combat antimicrobial resistance.
These bacteria grow on sponges at a depth of between one to two kilometres. The samples are currently collected by remotely operated vehicles (ROV’s) from the sea off Northwest Ireland, and the Ascension Islands.
The sponges range in size, with the largest being able to filter thousands of litres of water per day. Sponges are animals, so need strong bacterial protection to guard against the pathogens in the water they are filtering.
Mathew has already proved that these new deep-sea antibiotics are effective against human pathogens. He experienced no problems in growing these very tough deep-sea bacteria in the laboratory, at sea level.
Mathew founded the Antibiotic Resistant Pathogens Research Group to work collaboratively with other universities in the field. The next meeting of the group is taking place at Aston University. This grant will help fund a Research Associate to support Mathew’s research work and the new Research Group.
I feel that this research could have a huge impact on drug resistant bacteria, one of the main medical problems facing the world at present.
Find out more about the project by visiting the website: www.plymouth.ac.uk/research/biomedical-research-group/abx