Small molecules produced by actinomycete bacteria have been essential components of antibacterial drug discovery, providing us with greater than half of the antibiotics used in the clinic. However, the discovery of new drug leads is being outpaced by the development of antibiotic resistance to current medicines. In my lab, we have built a collection of aquatic bacteria and are using them to generate natural product antibiotic drug-leads for infectious diseases.
Our library: We use a MALDI-TOF MS-based bioinformatics pipeline (IDBac) developed in our lab to build a smart library of bacteria. IDBac ensures that each strain in our library is taxonomically diverse, and that we have minimized natural product overlap between entires, a major problem that has hindered discovery efforts to date! Our library contains >2,000 bacteria that cover four phyla and represent over 60 genera from across the globe.
Microbial Drug Lead Discovery Pipeline
Despite significant advances in nearly every stage of the NP drug discovery process, the front end has remained relatively constant for decades. Our lab is currently working to innovate these steps so that researchers can more intuitively mine the environment for drug leads.
What we do:
Exploiting aquatic environments to combat infectious diseases
A major focus of our lab is the discovery and development of antibiotics from aquatic bacteria. Ongoing projects in my lab merge the identification of small molecules with marine microbiology, molecular biology, genomics, and bioinformatics. To date we have built a collection of >2,000 aquatic bacteria and are using them to discover antibiotics to treat drug-resistant pathogens (such as TB and the ESKAPE pathogens). We identify drug leads through spectroscopic means (NMR and MS), characterize their mode of action, and further develop them as potential therapeutic agents.