Discovering novel drugs in unexpected places
Our research focuses on exploring new environments to uncover novel antibiotics to help in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.
WATCH LIVE: Matt Hutchings will be giving one of the UEA Annual Public Lectures on this research on 9th July at Woburn House in Tavistock Square, London. You can watch online here
Recent events have included the Antibiotic Hunters exhibit at Big Bang in March 2015, the "Leafcutter ants and their antibiotics" display at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition from 1st - 5th July 2014 and the "Antibiotic Hunters" exhibit at the Great British Bioscience Festival in November 2014 with colleagues from the John Innes Centre which is our partner on the Norwich Research Park.
About the research
With disease causing bacteria becoming multidrug resistant, scientists at the University of East Anglia are examining underexplored environments such as the deep sea and leafcutter ant nests in the hope they will provide us with the next generation of antibiotics.
Most of our antibiotics are "natural products" made by a group of bacteria called actinomycetes that live in the soil. But when soil bacteria produce these antibiotics they also express resistance genes, to protect them against the antibiotic's toxic effects.
Unfortunately, these resistance genes have spread to other "bad" bacteria, causing antibiotic-resistant strains to evolve which current antibiotics are powerless to treat.
Our research is focussed on discovering novel antibiotics made by the actinomycete bacteria that live on leafcutter ants and we are also using leafcutter ants to try and understand how animals form symbioses with beneficial bacteria.