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e-Science IDs New Weapons in Superbug Battle

e-Therapeutics discovers three drugs that are effective against antibiotic-resistant superbugs by using Grid computing and e-Science techniques

Techniques developed under the UK e-Science Program led to the identification of the anti-MRSA drugs that received widespread publicity in the U.K. national media last month. E-Therapeutics, a spin-out company from Newcastle University, announced the discovery of three drugs that are effective against antibiotic-resistant superbugs, such as that scourge of hospitals, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

The drugs enter clinical trials this month and should be available for use within 2-3 years. They're the first antibiotics employing a truly novel mode of action to be discovered for decades.

Pharmaceutical companies and others have put a lot of effort into the search for drugs to beat the superbugs. e-Therapeutics has succeeded where others have failed by using Grid computing and e-science techniques to trawl through the portfolio of existing, licensed drugs for any that showed action against the superbugs.

"With these techniques, we can search through all the data, warts and all, very rapidly and identify candidates within a fraction of the time it would take using conventional drug discovery methods," says Professor Malcolm Young, chairman of e-Therapeutics and pro-vice chancellor at Newcastle University. Research funded by EPSRC and the DTI under the e-Science Program demonstrated the reliability of the new method by showing that it could predict accurately the action and side effects of all 103 previously known antibiotics and many other drugs.


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