Synergistic Antibiotics

For Gram Negative Bacteria

Victoria University of Wellington Researchers have developed synergistic antibiotic compounds that eliminate Gram negative bacteria resistant to current antibiotic compounds

Innovation overview

VUW researchers have developed a suite of intellectual property using combinations of two approved drug classes that demonstrate synergistic antibacterial effects with sub-micromolar activity.
The combinations have the potential to be developed for treatment of serious Gram negative infections and may be suited to treatment of pulmonary infections such as those associated with Cystic Fibrosis patients as well as ventilator associated pneumonia and topical infections.
An injectable combination product might also be developed in the case where drug is required to enter the systemic circulation. Two patent applications have been filed, each utilising a different combination of existing drug classes, and different mechanisms of action.


Synergistic Power
A compound from each of two different approved drug classes (only one a known antibiotic) demonstrates synergistic effect in causing bacteriostasis.
Targets Gram Negative Bacteria
Compounds target Gram negative bacteria including: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, Enterobacter cloacae and Klebsiella pneumonia
Efficient and Safe
Demonstrates sub-micromolar activity and safety, DMPK and drug-drug interaction data is available for both classes of drugs


Defeats Resistance
Synergistic effects proven to defeat resistant strains of bacteria
Treating Topical Infections
Suitable for treating topical bacterial infections
Treating Pulmonary Infections
Suitable for treating pulmonary infections such as Cystic Fybrosis

Effect against E.Coli

Demonstration graph of synergistic effect of two compounds used in combination against E. coli.

VUW Researchers have demonstrated that where antibiotic compounds (administered individually) have negligible effects on bacteria growth rate, the synergistic effect of two compounds combined results in bacteriostasis at remarkably reduced concentration levels.

VUW have tested multiple different compound combinations against multi-drug resistant clinical isolates and have demonstrated marked increases in effectiveness.

Technology Diagram

Research leader

Associate Professor David Ackerley

Associate Professor David Ackerley is the Biotechnology Programme Director at VUW. His research focuses on the discovery, engineering, and applications of useful bacterial enzymes, and discovery of new drugs from both established chemical collections and the unculturable bacterial communities present in diverse environmental samples. A major theme of his research is directed evolution, the artific...

Contact person

Stephen Lorimer

After gaining a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Otago, Stephen worked in Canada and Switzerland as a research chemist, before returning home to New Zealand to work for Crop and Food Research for 16 years. During this time, he moved from working as a research chemist into a business development role, before taking on leadership roles with research groups in areas such as edible fungi produc...

See Stephen Lorimer's technology portfolio