Main entrance to DTU. Photo: Vibeke Hempler

Millions for research into antibiotic resistance and better drugs

Cells Synthetic biology Genes and genomes Medical equipment and systems Health and diseases
In a press release issued today, the Novo Nordisk Foundation reveals that it is grating a total of DKK 300 million (EUR 40 million) to five ambitious research projects on antimicrobial resistance and the development of better drugs. DTU heads up three of the five projects, which will each receive DKK 60 million (EUR 8 million) from the foundation.

The Challenge Programme

The grants are part of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Challenge Programme, which annually funds up to six projects with DKK 10 million over a period of six years, for a total of DKK 60 million.

"With the Challenge Programme Novo Nordisk Foundation aims to support and promote world-class research focused on finding answers to contemporary challenges in global technology or health," says Niels-Henrik von Holstein-Rathlou, Head of Research and Innovation Grants in the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

Analysing wastewater from 100 countries to reduce antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest threats to human health. In a collaboration between researchers from DTU and the University of Edinburgh, Professor Frank Møller Aarestrup from DTU Food heads up an ambitious new research project to collect and analyse untreated wastewater from more than 100 cities throughout the world with the aim of increasing knowledge on the global prevalence and acquisition of antibiotic resistance. The researchers thus hope to be able to create the basis for new procedures and methods for reducing antibiotic resistance globally and optimizing the use of the most effective antibiotics.

“We hope to show that the prevalence of antibiotic resistance can be monitored in up to half the world’s population. This type of monitoring programme will vastly improve understanding of the prevalence and spread of antibiotic resistance and the measures each country should take,” says Professor Aarestrup.

Learn more about the project.

Producing antibiotics using cell factories

Antibiotic resistance is increasing, and new antibiotics are desperately needed to combat infections. The project group will use innovative screening technologies to identify new potential antibiotics and the genes that code for their biosynthesis. These data will enable the bacteria to be used as cell factories to produce large quantities of antibiotics. The project will identify thousands of unknown genes that are involved in synthesizing antibiotics and will develop new biosynthetic production processes. Most important of all, the project will discover molecules that can potentially be developed into antibiotics.
Senior Researcher Tilmann Weber, DTU BiosustainThe Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, heads up the projects which is a collaboration between DTU (Denmark), KAIST (South Korea), and Fundación Medina (Spain).

“Our current antibiotics rapidly become ineffective, subjecting people to the risk of dying from even simple infections. We need to find new antibiotics now – and we need to optimize how we discover them,” says Tilmann Weber.

Learn more about the project.

From needles to capsules

Insulin is a medicine that can only currently be administered by using syringes and needles. Injecting insulin causes great discomfort for many people, creates a risk of infection and often requires trained health personnel, which is expensive for society.

Developing new methods that enable people to take drugs as capsules instead would be significant the people using the medicine and for society. The greatest impediment to success is that many of the important drugs, especially proteins, are not absorbed by the intestines.

“We want to develop new methods in our new centre that can significantly increase the absorption of pharmaceutical proteins in the intestines so that these drugs can be administered to people as tablets or capsules,” says Professor Thomas Lars Andresen, DTU Nanotech.

Professor Andresen heads up the project which is a collaboration between DTU, Harvard Medical School (USA), and Monash University (Australia).

Learn more about the project