Wales-based Neem Biotech recently received a Venture & Innovation Award from the U.K. Cystic Fibrosis Trust to develop new antimicrobial intervention strategies as part of its cystic fibrosis (CF) program.
Neem researchers are working on a new approach to manage antimicrobial resistance through the prevention of biofilm formation by bacteria, namely by Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria.
Biofilms are densely packed communities of microbial cells that surround themselves with a matrix that protects them from antibiotics and the host’s immune system. Biofilms also can affect hydration levels in the lungs of people with CF.
“Neem is delighted to receive this grant. We see the opportunity to work with the U.K. Cystic Fibrosis Trust to develop a safe and effective treatment regime to manage persistent bacterial lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis as a real opportunity to make a tangible difference to the lives of people living with cystic fibrosis,” Graham Dixon, CEO of Neem Biotech, said in a press release.
In CF patients, bacteria biofilms induce a cyclical process of inflammation and persistent lung infection, with damage to lung tissue, reducing lung capacity and increasing the risk of acute exacerbations. As a consequence, patients also experience higher rates of hospitalization.
The compounds being developed by Neem use a different approach to treatment; they are designed to disrupt the chemical “cues” used by bacteria to form biofilms. If used together with antibiotics, they potentially can increase antibiotic effectiveness while minimizing the risk of antimicrobial resistance.
“As the only U.K. charity that funds medical research into cystic fibrosis, it will be great to work with Neem Biotech on this important project,” said Paula Sommer, head of strategic innovation at the U.K. Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
The U.K. CF Trust is dedicated to create a world where CF is no longer seen as a life-long struggle, and where patients can have long, healthy lives. The Trust funds ground-breaking research, provides advice and support to CF patients and their families, raises awareness and promotes events about the disease.
“Antimicrobial drug development is key to helping people with cystic fibrosis as bacterial lung infections cause severe lung damage and impede lung function which is one of the biggest causes of death for people with the condition,” Sommer said.