Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance – the MTPConnect Podcast Raises Awareness of Australian Innovation

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25 November 2021

To mark World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2021, the MTPConnect Podcast partnered with the team from AAMRNet – the Australian Antimicrobial Resistance Network – to produce a special week of programming shining a light on Australia’s expertise and innovations to fight superbugs.

The theme for this year's World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (18-24 November 2021) was Spread Awareness, Stop Resistance as the World Health Organisation called on policymakers, health care providers and the general public to be Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Awareness champions.

Dubbed ‘the silent pandemic’, AMR has been identified as one of the greatest threats to human health today. To help raise awareness, the MTPConnect Podcast team delivered a week of AMR-focused episodes featuring biomedtech innovators from around Australia and covering issues from developing new treatments to finding faster methods of detection.

The first episode showcased the work of CO-ADD - the Community for Open Antimicrobial Drug Discovery  at The University of Queensland – which screens compounds from all over the world to search for the next new antibiotic. We spoke to CO-ADD co-founder, Associate Professor Dr Mark Blaskovich, who’s also Director of the Centre for Superbug Solutions at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB). He was joined by Dr Alysha Elliott, IMB Research Officer and part of the Cooper Group involved in translation of research for antibacterial drug discovery who leads the CO-ADD microbial team.

LBT Innovations headlined our second episode. This groundbreaking South Australian company is designing advanced medical technologies that automate culture plate reading and improve medical diagnostic workflows. CEO Brent Barnes provided an update on the company's world-first APAS Independence platform technology which is now making headway into US and European markets. With funding support from MTPConnect’s Biomedical Translation Bridge (BTB) program the company is developing an application powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning to help speed-up the detection of antimicrobial resistance, improve antibiotic stewardship and ultimately help patients get the treatment they need.

In the third episode, we caught up with Recce Pharmaceuticals, a company out of Western Australia that is pioneering the development and commercialisation of a new class of synthetic anti-infectives designed to overcome resistance. Its lead compound is the only synthetic polymer and sepsis drug candidate in development, as listed in the Pew Charitable Trusts Global New Antibiotics in Development Pipeline. It has also received ‘fast track’ designation under the US GAIN (Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now) Act. CEO James Graham joined the podcast from the US, fresh from attending the World Antimicrobial Resistance Congress in Washington DC.

And to close out the week of special programming, the podcast checked in with South Australia-based BiomeBank, Australia's first public stool bank and a microbial therapeutics company pioneering new treatments for debilitating bowel conditions. CEO Thomas Mitchell has recently returned to Adelaide after working with key microbiome biotech companies in US and UK, and in the final episode he discusses microbiome science – a hot spot in biotechnology right now.

Joining as co-hosts for the various episodes were Andrew Bowskill, MTPConnect’s Director of Stakeholder Engagement for Queensland and the co-chair of AAMRNet, Australia’s first industry led, multi-stakeholder Antimicrobial Resistance Network, established and operated by MTPConnect, Dr Rebecca Tunstall, MTPConnect's Senior Director of Stakeholder Engagement and Andrew Milligan from the Medical Device Partnering Program, a partner in our Biomedical Translation Bridge (BTB) program.

While the challenges posed by drug resistance are significant, Australia is certainly playing its part and our researchers and start-ups are bringing innovative new treatments and products to market.

Take a listen and let us know what you think! You can subscribe to the MTPConnect Podcast here.