Press release | 15.6.2017
Venice/Munich, 15 June 2017 - His method of "boosting" standard antibiotics through antimicrobial effects of essential oils could help turn the tide against multi-drug-resistant bacteria. Moroccan biology professor Adnane Remmal was awarded the 2017 European Inventor Award Popular Prize at the award ceremony today in Venice.
"Adnane Remmal's innovation offers a new tool in the fight against the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant microbes," said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. "It shows that traditional antibiotics and natural essential oils can be combined together for greater effect. Through his work, Remmal is also helping to spearhead pharmaceutical development in his native Morocco."
The award ceremony at the Arsenale di Venezia was attended by some 600 guests from the areas of politics, business, intellectual property and science, and opened by the EPO President together with Carlo Calenda, Italy's Minister of Economic Development.
The public was invited to vote online for their favourite inventor from among the 15 finalists for the European Inventor Award 2017. Adnane Remmal received the highest number of the more than 119 000 votes cast online. Awards were also handed over to winners in the categories "Industry", "Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)", "Research", "Non-EPO countries" and "Lifetime achievement", as chosen by the international jury. Now in its 12th year, the European Inventor Award is presented annually by the EPO to distinguish outstanding inventors from Europe and around the world who have made an exceptional contribution to social development, technological progress and economic growth.
"Even before I became a scientist, I was convinced that aromatic plants contained active pharmaceutical ingredients," says Remmal. Since the mid-1990s, the pharmacologist has been using essential oils from local plants to "boost" antibiotics' microbe-killing effects. Working at the Université Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah in Fez, Morocco, Remmal received a European patent in 2014 for his antibiotic booster drug that is currently in the final clinical trials and is expected to enter the market in late 2017. The mixture of antibiotics and natural oils creates a medication that is more powerful than the sum of its parts. It is also something that the world's most persistent microbes have never seen before - strong enough to fight multi-drug-resistant bacteria that are currently causing around 700 000 deaths per year.
"I consider infectious diseases to be the most threatening diseases in the world, especially for developing countries. This is why I devoted my research to this problem," says Remmal, whose drug will be offered at prices that are affordable in low-income regions. He hopes to jumpstart the Moroccan pharmaceutical industry by manufacturing his "boosted antibiotics" as the first-ever drug both developed and manufactured in the country.
"I wished to plant the seed of scientific research in Morocco which was considered a desert in this field," says Remmal. "Today, I'm overjoyed that this seed has grown into a flowering tree."
Note to editors: availability of AV and photo materials on 15 June 2017
Director External Communication