Fight against drug-resistant bacteria accelerated by government grant

18 October 2019

Research into using a cannabis compound as an antibiotic has been boosted by a government grant to an Australian biotech company to collaborate with an Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) superbugs researcher.

An Innovation Connections Grant awarded to Botanix Pharmaceuticals Ltd will support investigations at The University of Queensland into the non-pyschoactive cannabis compound, cannabidiol— discovered to be potent against superbugs by Dr Mark Blaskovich from IMB’s Centre for Superbug Solutions.

Engaging with industry to develop a new antibiotic

The funding from the Australian Government will advance studies into how cannabidiol works to kill bacteria, create and test related chemical structures to see if they are also active against bacteria, and hasten the pathway of a new antibiotic into clinical trials.

“We are excited to be working in collaboration with Botanix to create next-generation cannabinoids with new pharmacology and improved performance,” Dr Blaskovich said.

“The partnership demonstrates that The University of Queensland is engaging with industry and can assist with translational research that has a real-world impact.”

Using state-of-the-art research facilities at IMB

Michael Thurn, the Executive Director of Botanix, was delighted to announce the Australian Government funding.

“We are very pleased to continue our partnership with Dr Mark Blaskovich’s team at The University of Queensland to develop and test the cannabidiol analogs,” Mr Thurn said.

“The team’s extensive expertise in testing molecules, combined with their understanding of the mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance and state-of-the-art research facilities at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, will help facilitate the rapid advancement of these new drugs into clinical trials.” 

Tackling the rise of drug-resistant bacteria

The problem of drug-resistant bacteria is on the rise, with bacterial infections killing more than 9000 Australians each year and the development of new antibiotics lagging behind.

The Centre for Superbug Solutions is tackling the problem of drug-resistant bacteria by developing new diagnostics to help stop the inappropriate use of antibiotics, rediscovering and optimising antibiotics that were discovered in the past but not developed into drugs, and crowdsourcing compounds from across the globe to test for antimicrobial activity.

IMB's Dr Mark Blaskovich is partnering with Botanix to develop new antibiotics