UK invests 8.6 million euro to fight hospital superbugs

December 14, 2004

Brussels, 13 Dec 2004

A new state of the art research facility to tackle hospital superbugs such as MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus) has been opened at St Andrews University in Scotland.

The Scottish Structural Proteomics Facility (SSFP) will investigate the healthcare-associated infection, which is estimated to cost Scotland alone 260 million euro every year.

'The study of the structure of proteins is essential in the fight against drug resistant bacteria, viruses and parasites, which afflict many people in Scotland and the world,' explained James Naismith who will oversee the 14 research groups contributing to the SSPF.

'The UK has lagged behind in this field recently despite discovering and developing this technique in the 1960s,' added Professor Naismith. 'Currently, the US, the EU and Japan have major programmes in this area, which are nearly 100 times larger than the UK.'

The new facility will be home to an international team of researchers working to find more effective medicines for a range of infectious diseases. It is designed to streamline the process of drug design, from the identification of novel therapeutic targets from drug resistant bacteria to producing candidate drug leads. The researchers' work is relevant to the treatment of cancer, as well as parasitic, bacterial and viral diseases.

The consortia aim to determine 50 protein structures in five years, a significant increase on what can presently be achieved.

The laboratory will house large-scale robotic equipment, with cloning and expression technology.

'This is the most modern basic research facility in Britain for drug design work,' said Scottish Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace at the opening ceremony.

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities
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