Pioneering scientist who created new class of antibiotics that could save millions of lives dies of cancer aged just 29

9 October 2023, 08:24

Top scientist Kirsty Smitten who has died from cancer
Top scientist Kirsty Smitten who has died from cancer. Picture: supplied

By StephenRigley

A brilliant scientist who created a new class of antibiotics that could save millions of lives has died aged just 29.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Kirsty Smitten was given just months to live after being diagnosed with heart cancer, a terminal disease so rare it affects just two people a year in the UK, in February and lost her fight for life in the early hours of October 4.

She was being treated at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham before she died.

Kirsty Smitten
Kirsty Smitten. Picture: supplied

Read More: NHS warns strikes are having impact on cancer and heart patients

Read More: Amy Dowden's surprise Strictly return leaves fans 'emotional' as star confirms she’s halfway through cancer treatment

Her sister-in-law, Sukhi Smitten, wife of her older brother, Matt, 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."

While doing her microbiology PhD at University of Sheffield, Kirsty developed a new class of antibiotics treating multi-drug resistant bacteria.

Kirsty then set up MetalloBio in March 2021 - tackling the challenge of becoming a CEO while finishing her PhD. Months later she was ranked on Forbes 30 Under 30 and the company received an award from the Royal Society of Chemistry's emerging technologies competition.

She previously said: "A new class of antibiotics hasn’t reached clinics in over 30 years, and by 2050 antibiotic microbial resistance is expected to kill 10 million people, which is a death every three seconds per year. We would be able to prevent that.

“I now see how important my work is, because if I get an infection I have about an hour to get IV antibiotics before it becomes fatal because with chemo I don’t have an immune system at the moment.

“I still work, I just can’t work the same as I used to and I can’t go to to as many in person things. I think it’s hit a lot of our investments. A lot of the investors we have are very committed to me, and how I built the company and the passion I have for what we’re doing and my drive to take it forward."

She added: "There aren't words to express how sad I feel that I might not be around to see how our potentially Nobel Prize-winning work might unfold. My only hope is that the work carries on without me. I'm sure it will."

You can donate to a fundraiser set up in Kirsty's memory here.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Veteran Sherpa guide Kami Rita returning after scaling Mount Everest for the 28th time arrives at the airport in Kathmandu, Nepalhmandu, Nepal

Sherpa guide Kami Rita climbs Mount Everest for record 30th time

Ex-Post Office boss Paula Vennells has denied a 'conspiracy against her' as she gave evidence to the Horizon inquiry

Shamed ex-Post Office boss Paula Vennells apologises for Horizon scandal as she gives evidence for first time

Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store speaks during a news conference in Oslo, Norway

Israel recalls ambassadors as Norway, Ireland and Spain recognise Palestine

The new Eurostar check-in system is coming in later this year

Eurostar passengers set to be fingerprinted twice in new EU five-step check-in - sparking fears of travel chaos

The MP has shared details of the devastating impact of sepsis

MP who had quadruple amputation after contracting sepsis 'lucky to be alive' after being given 5% chance of survival

Sean 'Diddy' Combs

Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs accused of 2003 sexual assault

Paula Vennells

'Are you a liar?' Shamed ex-Post Office boss Paula Vennells heckled as she arrives at Horizon inquiry flanked by police

German’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock speaks to Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko during official visit to a thermal power plant which was destroyed by a Russian rocket attack in Ukr

Ukraine hit with blackouts after Russian attacks on power grid

Officers were called to an address on Hartley Road in the Radford area

Bodies of two women found 'undiscovered for some time' in Nottingham house believed to be mother and daughter

Mourners hold up a posters of the late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi at the mam Khomeini Grand Mosque in Tehran, Iran

Iran’s supreme leader leads prayers for president killed in helicopter crash

Jeremy Hunt said he's "very cross at them asking to be bailed out" by bill payers

Jeremy Hunt says he’s ‘very cross’ at Thames water asking for bill payers to ‘bail them out’ with bill rises

The Deputy Prime Minister is set to tell householders they should prepare for three days of self-sufficiency

Oliver Dowden to tell Brits to stockpile three days worth of emergency supplies in case of national crisis

The killer whale incident

Swimmer who 'body slammed' killer whale branded 'stupid and reckless' after video shows him leaping onto orcas

Russian troops load an Iskander missile as part of drills to train the military for using tactical nuclear weapons at an undisclosed location in Russia

Russia begins nuclear drills in apparent warning to West over Ukraine

Passengers have described the scenes on board Singapore Airlines flight SQ321

'Blood everywhere' inside the cabin: Passengers 'blacked out' in severe turbulence on Singapore Airlines flight

Bailiff Debt Collector At Door In Mask

Bailiff usage soars by nearly 50% as council debt blackhole hits £2.4bn, figures show