The EU-backed project aims to tackle antimicrobial resistance, which has become a problem due to over-reliance on antibiotics and a lack of new drug development.
The director of Science Foundation Ireland’s APC Microbiome research centre has been awarded an EU grant to investigate alternatives to antibiotics.
APC Microbiome is located at University College Cork (UCC). Prof Paul Ross is the first researcher based at the university to receive such a grant, which comes from the European Research Council (ERC).
Ross has been awarded €2.5m in funding for his investigations under the ERC’s Advanced Grant programme.
His project aims to tackle the antimicrobial resistance problem – or the challenge traditional antibiotics and antiviral medicines face when they encounter resistant bacteria.
The emergence of drug-resistant bacteria has become a problem in recent years due to the over-reliance on antibiotics and a lack of new drug development.
Ross and his team will work to explore the potential of naturally occurring antimicrobial peptides produced by bacteria in the human gut and other sites for the development of new antimicrobial therapies.
Known as bacteriocins, these peptides represent a potential solution to the antimicrobial resistance threat by killing drug-resistant bacteria while at the same time avoiding the damage caused by many antibiotics to gut microbiota.
Based out of APC Microbiome, Ross will lead a team of scientists working to develop bacteriocins as effective antimicrobials to predictably edit microbiomes and target pathogens. He will be assisted by his colleague Prof Colin Hill, who is also based at the UCC research centre.
“I am delighted to receive an ERC Advanced Award to further investigate bacteriocins as alternative therapeutics to antibiotics, in a time when we now appreciate the role of the microbiota in human and animal health,” said Ross.
UCC president Prof John O’Halloran offered his congratulations to Ross, who is in the top 1pc of the world’s researchers by citations.
“This award will drive momentum for this initiative and provide solutions to antimicrobial resistance, one of the most important global challenges of our time,” O’Halloran said.
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