Antibiotic resistant bacteria inside a biofilm, 3D illustration. Biofilm is a community of bacteria where they acquire antibiotic resistance and communicate with each other by quorum sensing molecules.Image with ITSMed graphic inserted by Susie (Digital Marketing)

The rise of antibiotic resistance

A UK government review in 2015 estimated that by 2050, the global cost of antibiotic resistance will rise to US$100 trillion and drug-resistant infections will cause ten million deaths a year, eclipsing the current toll from cancer and diabetes combined. 

In the UK alone, the government estimates there are currently 5,000 deaths each year because antibiotics no longer work for some infections.

There have been no new antibiotics introduced into clinical use for 30 years, and those in use are increasingly found to be less and less effective.

Led by Professor Mathew Upton, Professor in Medical Microbiology, researchers at the University of Plymouth's antibiotic resistant pathogens research group have pioneered a drug discovery programme focused on identifying the next generation of antibiotics, helping meet the need for novel approaches to the threat of antimicrobial resistance.


Introducing Amprologix

Launched in 2018 in collaboration with University intellectual property partners, Frontier IP, Amprologix will develop and commercialise the work of Professor Mat Upton.

The company has secured industry involvement through a partnership with world-leading biotechnology and synthetic biology company, Ingenza Limited, and initially developed the patented technology working closely with UMI3 Ltd at the University of Manchester.

The first product from the company is expected to be a cream containing epidermicin, one of the new antibiotics in development to combat infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. 

Epidermicin can rapidly kill harmful bacteria including MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), Streptococcus and Enterococcus at very low doses, even if they are resistant to other antibiotics.

In a relevant infection model, a single dose of epidermicin was found to be as effective as six doses of the current standard of care. 

Amprologix is focused on four areas:  

  • developing epidermicin for commercial use,

  • discovering additional sources for new classes of antibiotics,

  • using Artificial Intelligence to improve antibiotic properties, working with Ingenza Ltd, IBM and the National Physical Laboratory, and

  • developing efficient techniques to manufacture antibiotics at scale in partnership with Ingenza Ltd.


From concept to clinical trials

Epidermicin is derived from bacteria found on human skin, and was quickly identified upon discovery to be a potential compound for a new antibiotic due to the unprecedented way it attacks other harmful bacteria. With funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), a successful market scoping report led to further research to validate the compound and how it works. 

With every stage yielding reliable data towards creating the first antibiotic in 30 years, the next challenge was how to make this potential life-saving drug commercially viable.

An interactive workshop to discover new forms of antibiotic resistance using cutting-edge DNA sequencing methods.

Industry partnership

By partnering with Ingenza Ltd, Amprologix had the necessary industry collaboration in place to develop a system that would allow the production of epidermicin on a commercial scale. 

The strength of the academic expertise with the industry capabilities led to successful funding from the Department of Health and Social Care, through Innovate UK’s Small Business Research Initiative. The award of £1.2 million means Amprologix can now accelerate their work to make its epidermicin NI01 antibiotic ready for the first phase of human clinical trials in 2021.

Antibiotics in blister packs - image courtesy of Getty Images