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Development of Antibiotics

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Principal Investigator



Structural Biology

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Antibiotic resistant bacteria are a growing problem worldwide, leading to increasingly difficult to treat infections due to the reduced number of effective antibiotics. The problem is further exacerbated that even antibiotics of “last resort” are becoming ineffective in treating infections, along with issues of harsh side-effects of using said drugs.

Currently one of the most problematic antibiotic resistant bacterium is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA is becoming prevalent in hospitals and care homes, increasing the risk associated with hospitalization and invasive medical procedures. Therefore there is an urgent need to develop new antibiotics to combat MRSA.

The present technology from the lab of Nobel Prize winning Prof. Ada Yonath offers a tool in designing and developing new types of novel antibiotics. It is a high resolution crystal structure of the large ribosomal (50S) subunit from Staphylococcus aureus. The structure is based on a pathogenic strain giving new insight and capacity to target specifically the bacterium (Eyal Z, et al. (2015) Proc Natl Acad Sci and Eyal Z, et al. (2016) Sci. Rep.).


·         Designing and developing new types of antibiotics.

·         Computational screening of chemical libraries, reducing the number of physical compounds to screen.

·         Improving overall understanding of the ribosome in S. aureus.

·         New potential antibiotics binding sited which are species specific.


·         High Resolution – the structure gives high detail and possible target positions for antibiotics.

·         Crystal Structures soaked with antibiotics – certain antibiotics have been soaked with the structure giving insight in how they interact with the ribosome, improving rational design of new antibiotics.

·         Structure based on pathogenic bacterium – improving targeting of antibiotics, as current bacterial ribosomal structures are based on non-pathogenic species.

Technology's Essence

The invention is a high resolution crystal structure of the large ribosomal subunit from the pathogenic S. aureus. The crystal structures importance is that it originates from a pathogenic species allowing for a high-degree of specificity in targeting the S. aureus ribosome. Rather than the currently available ribosomal structures based on non-pathogenic bacteria, where small differences between species may limit the effectiveness in a designed antibiotic. The importance of the technology is that MRSA (methicillin-resistant S. aureus), is becoming more common place in hospitals, care homes, and even in the agricultural sector. Thus there is a clear need for new types of antibiotics that can help to counteract the ever growing problem of bacterial antibiotic resistance.  

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