Adam Taylor

A scientist at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has revealed promising results during a study to improve antibiotic based therapies.

Using a bacterial disease found in the tropics, Dstl scientist Adam Taylor has been working with Burkholderia pseudomallei, a bacterium that causes the disease melioidosis.

This disease currently kills almost 90,000 and infects an estimated 165,000 people every year, with symptoms including abscesses and pneumonia.

Treatment of this disease is complex and lengthy; the bacterium is resistant to several antibiotic therapies.

The research is in two parts which includes researching how well existing antibiotics work, and improving the effectiveness of these antibiotics by specifically targeting them to infected immune cells using antibodies.

This approach has the potential to reduce side effects, increase antibiotic effectiveness, increase specificity and reduce overall antibiotic use during therapy.

Taylor said: “This work is absolutely crucial, we all know that antibiotic resistance is increasing all the time and the amount of new antibiotics cannot keep up with the pace of bacteria becoming resistant, so the global urgency is on to find new ways of treating antibacterial diseases.

“I am among only a few scientists currently carrying out this research with this particular disease and I’ve already seen some really promising results. During the studies, I have captured data that shows we can improve how well the existing antibiotics used to treat this disease perform by linking them to an antibody.

“It’s really exciting when you see positive results, sometimes you don’t believe what you’ve seen, so you do the test again, but it’s a really good feeling when you have discovered something that could really make a difference.”

Adam’s PhD research is sponsored by the London School of Tropical Medicine, with initial results from the study expected for release later in the year.

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