This year’s Uppsala BIO-X award goes to two projects which each in their own way may bring about major healthcare improvements for society. The first research team to receive the distinction has identified a substance which not only improves physical sexual performance but also boosts sex drive, an extremely important aspect of a harmonious sex life, which has previously been overlooked. The second team are developing an alternative to antibiotics for combating ESBL-producing bacteria in the intestines. The award will be made on 2 December.
For the fifth time, Uppsala BIO is now awarding the Uppsala BIO-X grant to medical research projects which are deemed to have high scientific worth and market potential.
The first project team to be rewarded has developed a substance which affects both the physical ability to engage in sexual activity and the male and female libido. According to initial results, the substance has a considerably longer lasting and natural effect than other preparations available on the market today. Today’s medical treatments focus almost exclusively on sexual performance, which is the least common sexual dysfunction. The project team is led by Jarl Wikberg, professor of pharmacology at the University of Uppsala.
“With our aging population and constantly improving methods for treating serious disease, sexual dysfunction is spreading among both men and women. Today, one in four Swedish men suffer sexual dysfunction, above all in the form of reduced libido. It is important to have a well functioning sex life despite disease and treatment, and our substance will help to improve the quality of life for many people,” says Professor Jarl Wikberg, professor of pharmacology at the University of Uppsala and the leader of the research team.
The second project to receive the distinction deals with one of the most acute healthcare problems in the world today: how are healthcare systems to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Extended-Spectrum Beta-Lactamase (ESBL)-producing bacteria represent one of the greatest challenges facing healthcare systems today. Today, ESBL-producing bacteria are more common than MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infections, and are spreading quickly as well. According to the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, the incidence of antibiotic-resistant ESBL-producing bacteria has increased by 30% in 2009. ESBL drew attention last summer when three infants died after being infected at a hospital in Sweden.
“As is widely known, antibiotic resistance is a major and growing medical problem everywhere in the world, and the need to find alternative treatments is great. If the results of our patient trials continue to be as positive as they have up to now, they will soon result in new and important alternative treatments. The Uppsala BIO-X award is invaluable recognition of the importance of the research project,” says Anders Larsson, professor at Uppsala University Hospital, who is leading the project concerned with producing this alternative to antibiotics.
“I am extremely proud of being able to reward two such mature and welcome research projects. Both alternative treatments for antibiotic-resistant bacteria and medicines for improving sex life are of major social importance and are in great demand throughout the world. The Uppsala BIO-X award is intended to provide the best possible circumstances for these research projects. For research projects such as these to reach the market we must have collaboration between academia, business and organisations capable of backing the process,” says Lars Hagel, who is the chairman of Uppsala BIO.
The Uppsala BIO-X award grants researchers a maximum of SEK 3 million per project over two years, provided that they meet agreed targets. In addition, they receive advice, appraisals and help with contacts who may be needed to develop the research project to the point where it can be presented to established companies capable of working further with the product, or for establishing their own company.
Uppsala BIO is an independent, not-for-profit actor that works to enhance the long-term competitiveness and growth of the life science sector. Our most important efforts are about turning up the flow of innovations, starting from defined needs in healthcare and society in general. We do this together with companies, universities, healthcare, and public authorities.