Hunt on for new antibiotics to combat superbugs

Sydney, June 19 (IANS) Australian chemists have launched a global search to find antibiotics to combat superbug bacteria that are resistant to current antibiotics.

The Queensland University bioscience researchers will use a A$3.1-million ($2.41) grant from the London-based medical charity Wellcome Trust to individually examine antibiotics they hope to be sent from around the world, Xinhua news agency reported.

The initiative invites global chemists to submit their compounds for free screening for antimicrobial activity.

Initiative director, professor Matthew Cooper said antibiotic resistance research was vital.

“We are heading towards a return to the pre-antibiotic era, when even simple infections caused death,” Cooper said on Friday.

“Now it is time to act.”

The scientists hope to screen more than 50,000 chemical compounds in the next 18 months.

“We aim to help researchers around the world find new, diverse compounds to combat the superbug crisis,” Cooper said.

“Each year chemists around the world make millions of compounds, most of these are not designed as antibiotic drugs and would not otherwise be screened for antimicrobial activity.

“The next antibiotic could be out there, sitting on someone’s shelf.”

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