People with CF are particularly susceptible to developing lung infections due to the build-up of thick, sticky mucus in their lungs. If their infections are not cleared away effectively, they can cause increased coughing and wheezing, shortness of breath and the production of more sputum. These infections are so serious that it is common for people with CF to spend weeks in hospital several times a year for intravenous antibiotic treatment and monitoring, and in the long term the infections can cause permanent damage to the lungs. Some bugs that people with CF grow are becoming resistant to treatment with antimicrobial drugs and new drugs are urgently needed to use as a ‘last resort’ when current treatments aren’t working.
Breaking the deadlock
Due to the nature of these ‘last resort drugs,’ and the fact that they are likely to be used less frequently, drug companies are more hesitant to invest in developing them, as it may take longer than usual to break even on this investment.
For smaller pharmaceutical companies, biotechs and academics, developing antimicrobials for treating CF is more attractive, as they’re more likely to focus on one condition or disease, with the hope that the drugs can be effective against infections in other places. However, it can be a daunting task to navigate the many steps and obstacles in getting drugs to market.
Aims of the CF Syndicate in AMR
The CF Syndicate in AMR aims to get more antimicrobial drugs to cystic fibrosis patients faster, bringing together university and hospital-based researchers, researchers from the pharmaceutical and biotech industries and people from the CF community to work in partnership.
The Trust and MDC are working together to co-ordinate this partnership.
The CF Syndicate in AMR will work by sharing ideas on how to beat the bugs, providing a louder voice to demonstrate the need for this type of research and attracting more research funding to continue this work. Underpinned by management and expertise from MDC, as a collective, the CF Syndicate in AMR will tackle the fundamental technical challenges and regulatory requirements to bring new antimicrobial drugs to the clinic, which in itself can be a significant barrier to drug development.
Building bridges to faster drug development
In order to get a drug licenced, companies have to provide enough evidence to the regulators that their drugs are safe and effective. An important part of this is showing that the lab methods that they’ve used to collect the evidence are relevant and appropriate, and that the results have been interpreted correctly.
Currently, different companies approach this in slightly different ways, using different experiments and analysis, with a set of extensive data and justifications submitted to the regulator each time. One of the aims of the CF Syndicate in AMR is to streamline this process, establishing a set of accepted methods and interpretations of the results when testing new antimicrobial drugs for CF, that can be used by any company or partnership. This will significantly reduce the resources required and speed up the regulatory approval process.
Once the set of accepted methods for developing new anti-microbial drugs has been developed by the CF Syndicate in AMR, the next steps will be applying the methods to develop effective new antimicrobial drugs and building bridges across hurdles to enable faster drug development.
Alessandra Gaeta, Syndicates Programme Director at Medicines Discovery Catapult, said: “The CF Syndicate in AMR will provide a driving force in addressing the urgent call for better antimicrobials targeted to the needs of people affected by cystic fibrosis. Bringing together charity, industry and the academic community with people affected by CF, the CF syndicate in AMR will coordinate and catalyse focussed research efforts to tackle key challenges in the discovery and translation of CF antimicrobials. We’re delighted to be working closely alongside the CF Trust on this important initiative to accelerate drug-discovery in this field.”
Paula Sommer, Head of Research at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, said “We are excited to be working with Medicines Discovery Catapult to bring together the experts in the CF research community and industry, and with people affected by CF, to accelerate the development of new, urgently needed antimicrobials”.
You can read more about the background to the CF Syndicate in Antimicrobial Resistance on our website. If you’re a researcher or clinician interested in joining the CF Syndicate in AMR, please visit the MDC website to find out how to get involved.