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16 July 2020

New broad-spectrum antibiotic class identified

Researchers from the School of Cancer & Pharmaceutical Sciences have discovered a new broad-spectrum antibiotic class with activity against multidrug-resistant (MDR) Gram-negative bacteria.


Gram-negative bacteria, which can cause a variety of infections, pose a significant threat to public health due to their high resistance to most antibiotics, leaving limited treatment options for patients.

The pipeline of antibiotics currently available is essentially empty, and few compounds are even in early stage clinical trials. The development of novel antimicrobial medications for the treatment of infections caused by MDR Gram-negative pathogens is therefore an urgent priority.

The School of Cancer & Pharmaceutical Sciences have formed a strategic partnership with Public Health England with the view to develop new antimicrobial research and create a meaningful change. This partnership has led to new drug discovery capabilities in the antimicrobial area, and identification of these new broad-spectrum antibiotics is one of the few exciting developments coming out from the partnership.

With support from Medical Research Council, King’s Commercialisation Institute and Public Health England, a team of researchers, led by Dr Miraz Rahman, Reader in Medicinal Chemistry, have recently published their findings in the prestigious Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. This discovery provides a new chemical scaffold for the development of a new broad-spectrum antibiotic class with activity against MDR Gram-negative bacteria.

This new antibiotic class showed excellent activity against all MDR Gram-positive bacteria and priority Gram-negative pathogens listed by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO), including MDR and pan-drug resistant extended spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) and carpabenemase-producing enterobacteriaceae bacteria (CPE).

This is the first report of a chemical class that works against WHO and CDC priority pathogens in the last 40 years. This chemical class has been patented by King’s in 2017, and the patent has been recently granted by the US and EU patent offices. Our research team is currently working with Public Health England and UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory for the further development of the chemical series.

Dr Miraz Rahman, Reader in Medicinal Chemistry

Read the paper in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

In this story

Miraz  Rahman

Professor of Medicinal Chemistry