Marine Drug Discovery Home
The use of antimicrobial agents transformed our ability to treat many infectious diseases. However such widespread use of antimicrobials has resulted in many pathogens developing resistance to even the most powerful agents. Emerging drug-resistance is seen among many bacteria, including staphylococci, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and sexually transmitted pathogens such as Neisseria gonnorhoeae.
Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium carried as part of the normal flora of healthy individuals and is one of the most common causative agents of skin infections in the US. Most of these infections are minor and resolve without the need for antibiotic treatment. Occasionally serious infections can be caused by S. aureus including surgical wound infections and pneumonia. In the past such infections were treated with a penicillin-class antibacterial however 90% of S. aureus isolates are now resistant to penicillin. In these cases methicillin and vancomycin are the only treatment options. Since the 1990s the incidence of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) has been steadily increasing. Although MRSA infections are most common in hospital settings amongst the elderly, those who have a suppressed immune system or patients who have open wounds, infections are also occurring more frequently in the general population.
Our research is addressing the need for new antibacterial agents through the discovery of new natural products from marine microorganisms and invertebrates.
Extracts of marine invertebrates and microbial fermentations are tested for antibacterial activity using disk diffusion assays. The active components are purified using bioassay-guided purification and the activity quantified using broth dilution assays.