Mat, Professor in Medical Microbiology at the University’s Institute of Translational and Stratified Medicine (ITSMed) and the lead for the Antibiotic Resistant Pathogens Research Group, is engaged in ground-breaking research to develop a potent first in class antibiotic for drug resistant infections.
The global antibiotic resistance threat
Professor Upton and his team in the Antibiotic Resistant Pathogens Research Group are currently working on what has been described by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as one of the major threats to human health and modern medicine - antibiotic resistance. The WHO and international governments have stated that urgent measures are needed to avert the crisis we face. No new class of antibiotic has been introduced into clinical use for nearly 30 years. The team's programme of drug discovery aims to help meet this need for new antibiotics.
Deep sea sponges
Mat's research has taken him to the deep sea in a powerful collaboration with Kerry Howell of the Deep Sea Conservation Research Group. By combining their expertise, Mat and Kerry aim to identify and develop potential new antimicrobials produced in the microbiome of sponges that live deep beneath the ocean surface. Together, they will develop new methods of microbial cultivation, apply them to unique samples from a source rich in bioactive molecules, and identify urgently-needed new antimicrobials.
Mat is also chief scientific officer of Amprologix, a University spin-out company established to help tackle the problem of drug resistant infections by developing new antibiotics and bringing them to market. The company is aiming to meet a growing need for new antibiotics as harmful microbes become increasingly drug resistant. The company has recently won a £1.2 million contract from the Department for Health and Social Care to accelerate development and scale up its lead antibiotic candidate to tackle antimicrobial resistant MRSA and related superbugs.
We believe that deep-sea sponges contain diverse populations of new cultivable and non-cultivable bacteria. These represent a substantial uncharacterised and untapped source of bioactive molecules which could help meet the urgent need for new antimicrobials and have other health benefit applications.
Professor Mat Upton