Dr Andrew Robinson. Photo by Paul Jones.

Project awarded $588,098 in NHMRC funding announcements

IHMRI affiliated researcher Dr Andrew Robinson from the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) Molecular Horizons has been awarded a Project Grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Federal Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, announced the NHMRC grants today, Wednesday 12 December.

The project, which brings together researchers from UOW, Macquarie University and the University of Technology Sydney, could lead to a new weapon in the fight against antibiotic resistance, one of the great health challenges facing the world today.

Antimicrobial medications, such as antibiotics, have transformed human health and saved millions of lives. However, their widespread use has led to the emergence of antimicrobial resistance that poses a potentially catastrophic threat to public health.

Antimicrobial resistance is when microbes become resistant to the effects of medications that could previously be used to successfully treat them.

Chief investigator Dr Andrew Robinson said a new understanding of how bacteria survive antibiotic treatment had opened up a promising new line of attack.

Dr Andrew Robinson stated:

“We desperately need new drugs to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Promisingly, recent studies have revealed an Achilles heel – many antibiotic-resistant bacteria depend on DNA repair enzymes to survive antibiotic treatment. We have an immediate opportunity to capitalise on these discoveries. If we can find ways to shut down these repair pathways, we should be able to re-sensitise resistant bacteria to antibiotics.”

The research team brings together expertise in single-molecule microscopy, genetics and genome analysis. 

“Using specially designed growth chambers and cutting-edge microscopes, we will pinpoint the exact repair process that allows cells to survive and identify ways to stop it,” Dr Robinson said.

“This research will pave the way for new anti-repair drugs that can be used to kill resistant bacteria.”

Top picture: Dr Andrew Robinson. Photo by Paul Jones.

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