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Endeavour funding for research led by Professor Dame Margaret Brimble

17 September 2020

A research project led by Distinguished Professor Dame Margaret Brimble, MWC Deputy Director at the University of Auckland, has been awarded over $9 million from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) 2020 Endeavour Fund.


The project, 'Waerau waikawa iti rongoā paturopi: New Generation Peptide Antibiotics,' which aims to investigate and develop new, urgently-needed antimicrobial agents, vaccines and diagnostic tools, will receive funding of $9,179,085 over 5 years, with the contract commencing on 1 October 2020.

Prof Dame Brimble (pictured above) will lead the project with a team of scientists from around New Zealand - including MWC investigators Professor Greg Cook (MWC Director) at the University of Otago, Dr Jeremy Owen and Dr Robert Keyzers at Victoria University of Wellington, Professor Gavin Painter from the Ferrier Research Institute, Associate Professor Paul Harris and Dr Ghader Bashiri from the University of Auckland - in a bid to expand the antimicrobial development pipeline.

"We have assembled a stellar interdisciplinary team of scientists from across New Zealand to address the huge antimicrobial resistance crisis by combining world class medicinal chemistry with the best national expertise to discover new antibiotics from New Zealand's unique flora and fauna," said Prof Dame Brimble.

The MWC investigators involved in the project are also an integral part of the MWC's antimicrobial resistance research flagship - an established collaborative network of researchers from around the country the aims to discover novel antimicrobial drug candidates targeting a number of high priority drug-resistant bacterial pathogens, including multi-drug-resistant Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogens, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Endeavour-funded project aims to develop new generation of antimicrobial agents

Overall, 17 out of a total of 128 proposal applications in MBIE's 2020 Endeavour funding round were successful - selected by an independent statutory board, following an independent review by experts from New Zealand and abroad.

The new Endeavour-funded antimicrobial resistance programme led by Prof Dame Brimble has the potential to have an impact not only on New Zealand's pharmaceutical sector, but globally - the World Health Organisation has listed 12 pathogens where new antimicrobials are urgently required.

This programme aims to address antimicrobial resistance by focusing on knowledge creation for new antibiotics for human use, to replace and refresh an increasingly diminished pipeline.

Antimicrobial peptides will be their focus. Produced by environmental microbes, such peptides possess novel mechanisms of action and a lower propensity to elicit antimicrobial resistance than conventional agents, and are widely viewed as the last line of defence against multi-drug resistant Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria.