An increasing number of bacteria is evolving antibiotic resistance. Much-feared representatives of this steadily growing group include Staphylococci strains. At this point, multi-resistant forms of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus - the "hospital germ" known commonly by its acronym, MRSA - can only be treated with a select subset of antibiotics as many drugs have simply stopped working. This is precisely why the field of medicine is in desperate need of new treatment options.
One highly promising drug candidate is now scheduled for testing in clinical trials. The substance, developed by the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, is still known by its rather cryptic working name, GSK1322322. In the course of clinical trials to evaluate new drugs, physicians typically end up with large numbers of patient samples that are invaluable in studying the different diseases patients are suffering from - samples that have, until recently, rarely been recruited for research purposes. Now, scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig, Germany, and at the TWINCORE Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research in Hannover, Germany, aim to study such patient samples for a five-year-period. Part of a special collection at the Hannover Medical School's biobank, the samples will allow researchers to find out more about the etiology, course, and characteristic marker substances of infectious diseases. IMI, the Innovative Medicines Initiative, has awarded the scientists research grants totaling 6 million Euros as part of the COMBACTE (Combating Bacterial Resistance in Europe) project. IMI is a joint initiative by the European Union and the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Frank Pessler, who heads TWINCORE's "Biomarkers in Infectious Diseases" research group, secured the grant and is the project's coordinator at HZI. Under his helmage, the scientists, along with their colleagues in Paris, Barcelona, and Philadelphia, will be searching for biomarkers - molecules that are unique to a particular disease and which may provide information about if the diagnosis was correct and whether or not the therapy is working.