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01 Mar 2024

CSIRO-funded grant advances breakthrough therapeutics for frontline antibiotic rescue

University of Melbourne Dr Stephanie Neville, a molecular microbiologist at the Doherty Institute specialising in antibiotic resistance of bacterial pathogens, has been awarded a $500,000 CUREator grant by Brandon BioCatalyst, in the Minimising Antimicrobial Resistance Stream supported by CSIRO.

The rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) poses an imminent threat to human health globally. As pathogens evolve to resist the effects of antibiotic treatments, the UN estimates that, by 2050, up to 10 million deaths could be caused by superbugs and associated AMR. These statistics highlight the urgent and critical need to develop new treatments for multidrug resistant bacterial pathogens.

Dr Neville’s project “Rescuing frontline antibiotics by developing resistance breaking therapeutics” focuses on addressing the challenges posed by community-acquired bacterial pneumonia (CABP), a prevalent disease with an estimated global burden of over 5.6 million cases annually. Due to the rising incidence of AMR, clinical observations reveal treatment failure rates as high as 30 per cent.

“This CUREator grant will help us develop a new therapeutic strategy to treat CABP while overcoming bacterial drug resistance,” said Dr Neville.

“We are working on the development of a compound which, when taken with antibiotics, would re-sensitise the bacteria to our existing antimicrobials, therefore restoring treatment efficacy against CABP pathogens.

“In clinical practice, this innovative approach would allow clinicians to continue prescribing preferred, safe and inexpensive antibiotics despite high levels of circulating resistance, without risk of treatment failure.”

Run by Brandon BioCatalyst, the CUREator program provides grants to support and accelerate promising biomedical research and innovations, spanning from discovery to clinical development. CSIRO funds projects in the Minimising Antimicrobial Resistance Stream targeting the growing threat of AMR.

Professor Branwen Morgan, Lead of the Minimising Antimicrobial Resistance Mission at CSIRO, emphasised the preventative nature of these projects.

“As the challenge of antimicrobial resistance continues to grow, it's crucial that we invest in developing new technologies that can reduce the risk and likelihood of AMR emerging while also being commercially viable. That's why CSIRO is proud to support this round of the CUREator program, which is focused on fostering innovative and sustainable solutions,” said Professor Morgan.

Brandon BioCatalyst CEO Dr Chris Nave said, “CUREator is playing a pivotal role in advancing the development of translational research and commercialisation skills in Australia.”

For more information about CUREator visit