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Health Tech World Award winner who discovered new class of antibiotics dies at 29



A multi-award-winning scientist who developed a new class of antibiotics that could save millions of lives has died at 29.

MetalloBio CEO Kirsty Smitten passed away in hospital last Wednesday, having continued to battle constant pain as she carried out her vital work.

In February, Smitten was given just months to live after being diagnosed with cardiac angiosarcoma – a tumour in the heart.

The young researcher had been undergoing treatment at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for seven weeks before she died.

Sister-in-law, Sukhi Smitten, said: “Kirsty fought to the very end but this was such an aggressive cancer she couldn’t beat it.

“She kept saying how much she had to live for – her brother, Dan, is getting married in November and Matt and I are expecting a baby in February.

“She would have been the most wonderful auntie. We’re all heartbroken.”

As CEO of MetalloBio, Kirsty developed two antibiotic compounds to treat bacterial infections.

Through her PhD research, Smitten discovered the immense potential of the compounds in combatting infections caused by gram-negative bacteria, including strains such as E. coli and Pseudomonas.

The World Health Organization has called antibiotic resistance one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development today.

In July, Smitten told Health Tech World: “Everyone needs to realise that it’s going to be the next pandemic unless we do something about it.”

Smitten was awarded Young Health Tech Leader of the Year at the inaugural Health Tech World Awards.

It was just one of many accolades the pioneering scientist received in her young life.

Smitten was named on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in 2021.

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