Scientists developing a powerful, new technology that could transform our ability to fight drug-resistant infections, reduce suffering and save lives have won a prestigious innovation award.
University of Birmingham researchers are working with British biotech company, Matoke Holdings Ltd, inventors of Reactive Oxygen® technology, that destroys superbugs such as MRSA and Pseudomonas aeruginosa which cause major hospital-based and community infection.
The novel antimicrobial treatment speeds up recovery, prevents infection and reduces the need for antibiotics and surgery, including amputations.
Dr Sophie Cox and doctoral student Thomas Hall, from the School of Chemical Engineering, beat stiff competition to scoop the £5,000 prize for the most innovative collaboration with an external partner in the Enterprising Birmingham Innovation Competition 2017. The talented team is led by Professor Liam Grover, a leading researcher in biomaterial science.
Reactive Oxygen® is a novel strategy for the treatment of bacterial infections that has already reached early clinical use in wound care (1,2). It can destroy the deadliest drug-resistant bacteria and is safe to use on human tissue. It is also highly effective against biofilms or colonies of bacteria that are difficult to treat with antibiotics (3)
The scientists are investigating different delivery mechanisms, such as sprays, to expand clinical uses.
Ian Staples, founder and CEO of Matoke Holdings Ltd, said: “The World Health Organisation recently highlighted the urgent need to find new solutions to major drug-resistant pathogens, this is further evidence of the incredible potential of Reactive Oxygen® technology to help tackle the global antibiotic crisis.
“No Gram-positive, Gram-negative or multi-drug resistant bacteria has survived contact with this safe and effective technology.
“We will continue to seek funds to invest in leading scientists, such as the team in Birmingham, to exploit the full potential of Reactive Oxygen® technology to fight drug-resistant infections and save lives.”
Reactive Oxygen species (ROS) occur naturally in the body as a host defense against infection and has multiple roles – killing invading microbes, messaging repair cells and stimulating new tissue growth
Mr Staples added: “Matoke Holdings Ltd has developed a patent applied and granted bioengineered technology platform to deliver extremely low, controlled levels of reactive oxygen to infected tissue, over a sustained period of time. This process mimics the natural production of ROS delivered by the mitochondria, or powerhouse, of living cells.
“This process is one of nature's core defence mechanisms to destroy pathogenic infections as well as working as an immune system signalling mechanism.
“The research in the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham, in partnership with Matoke Holdings Ltd, is a fundamental advance in delivery system development to take our technology into areas where antibiotics are increasingly failing.”
Dr Cox said: “We will be using this award money to accelerate the impact of this exciting research. This award is recognition of all the hard work Tom has put into this PhD so far and an acknowledgement of the high quality of his research.”
Mr Hall added: “I think the judges really understand what we are working to achieve and how important it is. The close relationship between ourselves and Matoke made all the difference.”
The showcase event, when finalists presented their innovative ideas and collaborations, was held at the Elgar Concert Hall at the University of Birmingham on Wednesday March 29. The judging panel included Richard Bishop, investor in growth businesses, Chis Granger, director of finance, University of Birmingham, Dr Chris Moore, partner HGF Intellectual Property Specialists and Dr Brijesh Roy, Investment Manager, Mercia Technologies PLC.
1. Dryden M. Reactive Oxygen therapy: a novel therapy in soft tissue infection. Current Opinion Infectious Disease 2017 Apr;30(2):143-149. 2. Dryden M, Cooke J, Salib R et al
2. Reactive Oxygen: a novel antimicrobial mechanism for targeting biofilm-associated infection Journal of Global Antimicrobial Resistance 2016 3. Dryden M, Cooke J, Salib R et al 3. Hot topics in reactive oxygen therapy: antimicrobial and immunological mechanisms, safety and clinical applications Journal of Global Antimicrobial Resistance 2016